In kind collaboration wirh @YQMaoski ^^
Once upon a time, in a kingdom surrounded by lush forest, there lived a knight called Maoski, whose passion was quails. He loved to watch them hatch and grow, take dust baths and with every new batch of eggs, he was eager to see what colours the youngsters would become as they aged.
One day, Mao heard rumor of a rare quail living in the forest. The bird was said to have an array of colours unknown to any other and to sing even sweeter than a nightingale. Intrigued, he asked all around his town if anyone had seen proof of such a wondrous bird. No one had. Perhaps it was just a fairy tale, some child’s wild imaginings. Nevertheless, the knight’s curiosity grew and he became determined to find out the truth for himself.
His wife just shook her head and smiled at the idea, but she didn’t dissuade him. Instead, the night before he determined to set off in search, she packed him a sumptuous lunch of sandwiches and drink. The next day, she bade him be careful, wishing Mao well and success in his quest. It was early in the morning, before the sun rose and the dew still sparkled on the grass, that Maoski bravely left his home, making his way towards the silent forest.
He had only stars for navigation, but he felt confident he wouldn’t get lost. As he walked, the forest awoke above his head. Squirrels began to peek out their holes, chattering softly; sleepy birds piped up in monotones, too muddle-headed to speak properly. Beneath his feet, ants were already hurrying by and the slight shivers of the grass portended nearby snakes, or perhaps rabbits.
On and on he walked, partaking in half his food and water as the day warmed. The trees were just as dense overhead but the day was brightening and so was Mao’s spirits. He’d come quite a ways into the forest, away from the beaten paths. There were no noises now of human habitations. Surely he was going the right way to find his quail, as he’d come to think of it.
It was just a little further on that the trees began to thin and the light he could up see ahead was the clearest and whitest he’d ever seen. There must be a clearing up ahead, a place where the canopy opened. Eagerly, Mao rushed forward to find he was right, but that was not all.
In a patch of vivid green grass, munching away placidly, stood a Pegasus. It seemed strong, muscled and sleek, gleaming white from nose to tail. Mao caught his breath and quickly clamped his lips shut, afraid to spook the animal, but it didn’t so much as blink. Emboldened, he cautiously approached. The munching continued without pause, so Mao, a lover of animals, raised a hand to stroke its neck. The Pegasus neither stilled nor shied away. Delighted, in as polite a voice as he could muster, he asked: “Would you allow me to mount, new friend? I’m in search of a rare quail and perhaps, have far to go yet”.
The creature shook its head vigorously and the light spilled through its mane with the iridescence of a rainbow splitting the sky. So stunned by this display, Mao’s eyes were dazzled for a moment. When he blinked his vision clear, his new friend was a little ways off, looking over its shoulder as if to say: “Follow me”. And so he did, with the sure-footed steps of one who is in a dream.
Before he could think, he was all at once in another bright clearing, although the roof of the trees was again thick overhead, there were slices of light between the branches, forming window panes to the blue sky. The Pegasus rested his front hooves on one of the tree trunks in mimicry of a gentle knocking.
Maoski heard no whinny or other sound, but as he looked up, a beautiful bird peeked an orange head over the side of its nest and sang as if in answer to a summons. In another second, the quail took flight on green and silver wings and landed onto Mao’s shoulder. What meaning there was in the song it sung to him, only those 2 can tell you, but it filled the man’s heart with joy. He felt like he could neither look nor listen enough.
More little heads peeked over the side of the nest - tiny chicks, obviously well fed, for they were eyeing him with open interest and not crying for their parent. It was a humbling moment. Mao realised these lovely creatures were not his, but of the forest and indeed, safest here under the protection of the Pegasus and whatever other enchanted beasts dwelt invisibly in these wild places.
It didn’t seem long before he was nudged by a gentle forehead. The Pegasus knelt and turned its head to its shoulder once more, and this time Maoski knew this meant: “Climb on”. Without hesitation, he did, bending his head to the animal’s neck instinctively. Once again, he had chosen well, for they began to move as such a speed, he felt like they had moved through time itself. He felt no acceleration nor fear, but colours wavered and bent past his eyes in greens and browns and the smell of the earth filled his nostrils crisp and clean.
It was a ride that felt like it lasted forever, but it was only early evening when they returned to the first clearing. The young knight dismounted and bowed his thanks to his new friend. Much to his surprise, the stallion bowed his front knees in a mutual gesture of respect and fealty. Mao’s smile rivaled the gleam of the animal’s skin. He had come with one goal in mind, but he was leaving with so much more. He could not wait to tell his wife of the marvelous events that had occurred.
Maoski said his goodbyes once more and turned back the way he had come. A few steps on, he couldn’t resist a final look behind, but the Pegasus had already gone, like a sigh on the wind.