Our story, called “The Scars of a Friend”, tells what happens when ‘the broken’ are accepted rather than cast aside and forgotten. In our last post Azhar could no longer enjoy his wild rides with Wind Rider due to the wounded horse’s diminished strength. What will become of Wind-Rider now?
Azhar came to the horse’s stall less and less often, until finally he no longer visited Wind-Rider. With no one to ride him, the animal was turned out to pasture. Wind-Rider remained eager to run. The stallion’s pent-up energy surged beyond the limits of the fence. One day he came upon some downed fence posts, leaped over them and escaped into the wild hills.
At first, Wind-Rider was able to find shelter and food in those hills. However, an unusually harsh winter set in. He browsed the tips of pine trees and pawed the frozen earth looking for hidden roots, but there was little food to eat.
The outline of his ribs became visible through his ragged coat. The trees and rocks offered scant shelter from the bitter wind, and the horse’s bony frame shivered with the cold.
In desperation, Wind-Rider made his way out of the hills into town, looking for food and warmth. He wandered into the center of the village and began to scrape the rocky soil underneath the bell tower, searching for roots to eat. His hoof struck the bell rope and a single distinct note pierced the night.
As Wind-Rider continued to strike the ground, the bell rang out loud and clear. When the villagers heard the bell, they put on their coats and shawls, grabbed lanterns, and made their way to the town square. The night was chilly and damp; flakes of frost hung in the air. The villagers held their lamps high and in the glittering darkness tried to make out the strange figure under the bell tower.
“Who is there”? they called out, but received only a soft snort in reply.
“Why it’s a horse ringing the bell,” someone said, and they began to chuckle.
“It’s not just any horse,” said a young man. “It’s Wind-Rider.”
“No,” said a village merchant, “this can’t be Wind-Rider. Look at his dull coat, his tangled mane. Why, his ribs are showing.”
“Ahh, look again,” said an old woman. “No other horse has a dappled gray coat with a black mane and tail.” As the townspeople moved closer, the horse remained strangely quiet.
“But how can such a thing be possible? He is the favorite horse of Azhar,” said someone else.
“I work in Azhar’s stable,” said the young man who had identified Wind-Rider. He took an apple out of his coat pocket and offered it to the horse. As Wind-Rider chomped noisily on the apple, the stable hand grasped his bridle and related the story.
“One night Master Azhar and Wind-Rider were riding through the forest when they were attacked by a band of thieves. Wind-Rider trampled the bandits and fled to safety. He saved Azhar’s life, but received a cut to his flank from which he never fully recovered. He was never the same again and could not run as before. Azhar ignored him and turned him out to pasture. When the horse ran away, the Master never even went to look for him. He seemed relieved that the horse had disappeared from sight.”
What will the towns people do about Wind Rider?
Next time: Azhar’s Promise