Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
The Tale of Pegasus
The setting is Geo’s Stuck Inn somewhere in Sartar. Tolmund the Teller is going onstage to entertain the crowd. He spins his pellet drum to announce his presence and steps up on the low platform. The crowd cheers when they see him. He strolls from one side of the tiny stage to the other, a journey of only two or three steps. He spins his drum again and then stops and looks exaggeratedly pensive. The crowd stills and waits for him to speak. He spins his drum again and then strokes his beard. He mutters in a loud stage whisper, “I suppose they’re all waiting on a story of some sort…” He pauses again and in comically tiny steps crosses the stage again. The crowd laughs and he looks up startled as though only now realizing where he is. “A tale eh?” The crowd roars their appreciation. “A tale, a tale!”, they call. He turns away from the crowd, spins his drum again energetically and adopts a thoughtful pose, still facing away from the crowd. “Every tale has a toll they say”. The crowd laughs and people start throwing coins on the stage. He counts aloud at the strikes, “3 lunars, 10 clacks, (a leaden thud), and a bolg?” He turns and an Argan Argar trader looks sheepish before tossing a wheel on the stage, “My cult disapproves of them anyway,” he shrugs apologetically to a roar of approval from the crowd.
“A fine toll I think, even the bolg. You never know when you might need to tip a trollkin after all.” Another hearty laugh from the crowd. “But a tale to tell? What tale to tell?” He scans the crowd before his eyes rest on a Lhankor Mhy couple in matching beards. He points in their direction his finger going from one to the other before settling on the obvious female one of the pair. “You there, my fine fellow where you not asking about the Pegasus?” She laughs and yells out, “Yes, yes tell us of the Pegasus!” He spins his drum to silence the crowd and begins his tale.
You all know of fast mounts I am sure. The beasts of legend. Every culture has them. Even the Praxians speak of speedy mounts though one would imagine the fastest rhino would still pale in speed to a unicorn say. (A table of obvious rhino riders guffaws at this). But do you know of Hippoi? (Everyone roars a hearty Yes! He seems nonplussed for a moment but then spins his drum for silence). But do you know of Hippoi’s fastest son, Pegasus? When Hippoi, daughter of King Griffon had had her fangs broken off by raging Storm Bull, her wings torn off by mighty Zorak Zoran and her claws pulled from her feet by Maran Gor she was left a shell of her former self. But she still pined for speed and wished for flight.
Somewhere she found a mate of legend and she bore a son, Pegasus so called because he ran like he had wings on his heels. Nothing could catch him and he was the glory of Yelm. Because all the horses had accepted servitude with men even mighty Pegasus was the mount of kings and heroes. Immortal like his mother he was passed down from hero to hero. The foals and fillies he sired were but pale reflections of their father’s glory but were still kings among horses. As I said Pegasus served the kings and heroes of the Dara Happans until the Second Age. When the Golden Horde marched on Dragons Pass to throw down the Empire of the Wyrms Friends Pegasus and his rider were there at the fore. Their beauty and valour were unmatched in the Horde. But what use is valour and beauty when facing dragon fire? Even a brave, noble soul like Pegasus can know fear and though he tried his best his rider fell losing his name and his life. (The crowd gasps).
Pegasus fled as fast as he could, running heedlessly away from the carnage and flame. When he came to his senses he found himself mired in mud up to his flanks. He had stumbled unknowingly into Delecti’s Marsh and before he knew what was what he was stuck. He struggled to free himself both day and night but all he could do was weaken himself. And that was when Delecti’s minions found him. They knew they had found a fine meal and went to inform Delecti of their find. The Master Stitcher himself came and delighted in the sight of such a proud beast brought low. His minions waited expectantly for the order to slay the beast but instead Delecti ordered them to bind Pegasus and bring him to his laboratory. (The crowd hisses).
I shudder to think of what torture Pegasus suffered at Delecti’s hands but the stallion’s roars turned to piteous whinnies as day turned to night. Finally silence fell again and night followed day as it must. Then a strange sight was seen over the Marsh as a winged horse bore Delecti into the sky! The old Stitcher had sewn mighty wings on Pegasus shorn from some unfortunate griffon. Well the Monster thought himself the Master but he was wrong. Pegasus had had many mighty and noble riders during his life and he would not stand for this. He ignored the bit and the reins and soared straight up before plunging toward the ground again. Now, foolish people think Delecti screamed in terror but wiser heads know emotion was foreign to him. What was not foreign to him was the pull of the ground. No rider he Pegasus contemptuously tossed him to the ground and he fell with a mighty thud to the mud. It is said it took his minions three days and two nights before they finally dug him out. And it is also said that he kissed the mud and swore a mighty oath to keep both feet on the ground from then on. But many things are said when all is said and done and it may be so and it may not be so. (Laughter)
But what is true is that Pegasus was confused and exhilarated at the same time by his new found flight. Not knowing where to go he let his wings guide him and they brought him to a high plateau where his new wings had been born on a different sort of creature. The griffons which lived there were confused by this horse with griffon’s wings and tried to eat him. But Pegasus had been speed incarnate when limited to the ground but now that he could fly he was like lightning! They could not catch him no matter how they tried and eventually decided that they had never intended to eat him in the first place and let him be. The Beastmen saw him circling the Plateau and renamed it after him, much to the annoyance of the griffons who had been there first. He stayed there for a long time before getting lonely and flying off to look for other horses. And it is said that he visits horse herds across the lozenge looking for companionship. Many have tried to capture him and ride him but having thrown mighty Delecti himself he has decided that has earned his freedom and he will suffer no rider. But the owners of the herds welcome his visits for while he does not stay long the foals and fillies born after he leaves are always champions among horses and run as though they have wings on their heels!
And that is the Tale of Pegasus says Tolmund as he bows to loud applause and a rain of more coins.
Last updated April 18, 2021
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