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What Are Legend...

By Linda Terrell
Page 2 of 4

Orac was sometimes blessed with downright prosaic flashes of humor. The super computer set them down in the midst of a glade of Byronesque beauty.

Golden hills spotted with deep green clumps of bushes and gnarled trees rolled away to mountains whose summits gleamed with snow. A small stream flowing to river cut through this land leaving a green wound rich with birds and small game.

A hawk called warning and white deer skittered into the forest.

"Who painted this?" Vila asked rhetorically.

"Gauguin," Blake replied.

They all exchanged wry faces as once again their enigmatic Leader dropped another piece of arcane knowledge on them.

"I would have said Chagall myself," Avon tossed a pebble into the stream. "But the light is wrong."

Blake chuckled. "Of course."

"Actually, it's more DaVinci's light," Vila put in as a fish broke surface where the pebble had landed. "It's that same kind of white light as if lit from behind by the moon, don't you think?"

It was Blake and Avon's turn to exchange wry glances.

"Shall we explore?" Blake offered, looking to each face.

Cally sloshed on across the water. "Yes. Let's."

"You're on," Jenna called and followed.

Vila sat by a tree with solid determination. "I'm staying right here."

Avon eyed the thief severely. "Naturally. Walking about is too much like work."

"No, it's too much like getting lost. I know where here is and so does Orac. And I'm staying by it. Bye." Settling, he shot Avon a little wave and a smug grin.

Avon froze briefly, hands clasped behind his back. "You almost have a point, but to concur would mean remaining here with you, which is not the point of this exercise."

"Which is out of the question."

Avon grinned. "Naturally." He moved away with deliberate strides, stopping to examine a flower or shrub or sound.

Blake simply followed his nose, as it were. Moving down the glen, toward an intriguing stand off massive trees.

"Look at the size of them, Avon! It would take ten of us to encircle one of those trunks," he said with true awe.

"Yes. It's refreshing in a way." Avon moved up to one of the trees to touch it. That Blake hadn't even looked back to see if Avon was there before he spoke, didn't bother him. He'd almost gotten used to Blake's second sense toward him. He found it oddly comforting.

Blake moved on a few steps, then looked back over his shoulder. "Are you coming?"

Avon detected a note of hope but his natural perversity held him back. "No. You need to get away from me as much as I need to be free of you...for a time." He backed off and turned away before Blake's frown could change his mind.

Shaking his head, Blake suppressed a rueful smile and forged on into the woods, pausing at each new plant and flower, trying to recall his spotty knowledge off Natural History. Ponderosa? Or was it Sequoia? So many of the plants appeared to have definite earth origins. Or had these plants come to earth?

A shadow across the rays of sun startled him. Looking up, he saw an enormous dark bird sweeping the sky over him. "Well, well. Not so uninhabited." He sat down against a tree and waited.

Eventually, in spite off his wariness, Blake fell asleep, sighing down into the grass at the base off the ancient tree until he was nearly hidden. His deep olive tunic and earth-tone vest served well here.

Despite his natural uneasiness, Vila, too, dozed, against another tree, near the stream.

Searcher shimmered before him, amorphous, misty. The Fabric of Dreams.

'Surely, this is not The One?' Dark Of The Moon chuckled from his position high over the woods.

'You know better. You are above The One even now. This one follows and his timorousness is a game.' She put her nose to Vila, covering him with her breath. He slapped at her fretfully and she skittered back onto her haunches.

'He's harmless,' Dark Of The Moon intoned. But the old instinct never lied. 'They are armed?'

'Yes,' she sighed. 'As always.'

'They are fugitives, as are we.'

'Yes, yes. They hope to hide here. Weapons are to be expected.'

'This one, their Leader, has an odd way about him. They do not always follow.

'Except the one called Avon. He is near him. He acts otherwise, but he follows.'

There was a long silence then, as Dark Of The Moon circled lower over Blake, startling Avon. 'There were always Two Footed Walkers who were different.'

'But if such as The One are running and hiding, then they are still the exception.'

'The females are playing with the deer.'

'I am not surprised.

***

Astonished at the size of the "bird" above him and at its apparent threat to him, and Blake, Avon drew his weapon.

With a scream that chilled Avon's marrow, the creature dropped and batted the gun out of his hand with a wing tip. An incredibly dexterous feat for such a large, bulky...horse?

He ducked behind a tree that afforded little protection but he obviously wasn't thinking clearly. He'd just seen a winged horse.

"I'm having visions," he muttered, then made a dive for his gun.

Before he had made five feet, Dark Of The Moon landed solidly over the weapon. Raising a tremendous black opal hoof, he crushed the gun beneath it. "It is enough I allow you to remain here, Two Foot. I will allow no weapons."

It was not only a flying horse, it was a talking horse. "I'm mad," Avon murmured, getting to his feet.

"The gun was for protection. This planet is unknown to us." That's it, talk back to the nice horsie. If he had to go mad, Avon would do it in style.

The animal walked directly up to Avon and put its nose into his face, whiffing cautiously. Topaz eyes gleamed.

Avon tried to think of several directions he should be going but he was rooted. He couldn't remember when he'd seen anything so fiercely, so magnificently, so frighteningly beautiful as Dark Of The Moon.

Even Gan would have had to look up at this beast, Avon thought. Dark Of The Moon was twenty-two hands tall.

"If I impress you so, then you have not yet seen Searcher." Avon put out a hand. "There are more of you?"

"There are more of many things to astonish you."

"I've been astonished by the best."

"Including yourself."

"You and Cally should hit it off." Avon rubbed his palms together. "She's a telepath with a penchant for speaking in riddles."

"I know."

Avon flared at the animal's complacent know-it-all attitude. "Is there anything you don't know?"

"How he leads. What is it about The One that makes such as you follow?"

"Avon?" Blake's voice, quizzical and surprised, came over his shoulder. He spun to face the rebel.

"You're talking to a horse," Blake went on deadpan.

It was quite a sight Blake walked towards: Avon in his silver tunic and high boots, standing before a giant black horse.

Dark Of The Moon spread his wings, cowling them both.

"Oh, it's a flying horse, is it? Well then," Blake pulled at a curl behind his ear. "That's quite different."

Blake put a hand on Avon's shoulder. "Care to introduce us?"

Avon's nose met Blake's nose. Blake lost. "He's a civilized horse. Introduce yourself."

"Very well," Blake pushed Avon aside gently and went up to the horse. "My name is Roj Blake. What's yours?"

"I am Dark Of The Moon." Looking over Blake's shoulder and ignoring the rebel's expression, Dark Of The Moon appraised Avon again. There was a subtle change in the man now that Blake was here. Then he eyed Blake closely. "I think I see how it is you compel your people. One such as Avon does not follow easily."

"Or willingly. Avon, I'm talking to a flying horse."

"Welcome to the club. And don't go for your gun. He's got big teeth. And wait until you meet Searcher."

"There's another?"

"Apparently. Or so the horse says. He says that Searcher is even more impressive."

"Just how many impressive things are there on this planet?"

"What are legend?"

"Oh yes," Avon added, "he also talks in riddles. Rather like you."


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Linda Terrell

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