I lay stretched out on the warm grass of my homelands in the sierra Nevada mountains. Grazing on the lush green grass I kept watch over my little herd of seven, eight including myself. Some, like me were busy grazing but most were drinking and cooling off in the crystal clear lake. It's early june so heat gets pretty intense during the day. I smiled to myself, watching the three young foals splashing and jumping about playfully.
Squealing and whinnying from fighting stallions broke my attention from the youngsters. Drakon a light palamino, Zilar a silver-grey had broken out into a contest to win the attention of Iola a very pretty, delicate, brindle mare who had recently become ready for foaling. I sighed heavily through my dainty nostrils, getting up to put a stop to it. I mock charged them first warning them but when they continued rearing and biting, I reared up squealing authoritatively, flatning back my ears and biting their withers hard.
I was letting them know that if they couldn't behave, they could find their own herd. They hung their heads low submissively and began grooming me. Sometimes I really missed my old life. My human one. Yes, five years ago I was a ten year old human girl. My name is Rosamond Ember. I shook the boys off to go quench my thirst in the lake. I was fascinated by my reflection.
It never got old seeing myself as a liver chestnut with a thick full blaze that covered my muzzle, two long stockings on my right foreleg and left hind leg. We are all Spanish mustangs, at a glance you'd swear I was a real horse, but my eyes were that of a cursed shape-shifter, or as my mother had preffered Enchanted.
They were tiger or yellow coloured, an unusual colour for most horses.
You see my family goes back a whole century. Our last name has remained since then. My ancestor Oralie Ember was a witch hunter, made better by the unknown shape-shifters blood running through her veins. Back then they hadn't been part of the curse but they had inherited some animal abilities. So upon catching this one witch by the name of Nique she, and her family had severely pissed her off.
Her dying words were quote:'I curse you Ember family hunters of witches, to live life as what you really are! Equines! Each and every one of your future generations will suffer this curse!.... Only when an Ember finds the one who truly understands will the curse be lifted.' Of course they laughed at her. But every child since then has had the ability to both voluntarily and involuntarily shape-shift into a Spanish mustang.
BUT every second generations middle child is forced to stay equine from the age of ten until twenty-five unless they find a way to break the curse. I am a second generation middle child. I have been completely cut off from my human family, starting life here as a filly with surget parents. Who sadly passed away two years ago leaving me in charge of the herd.
I looked up at the Sun, slowly rising further into the blue skies. Midday. Soon the deer and the antelope's will come here to graze. I quickly whinnied to my herd indicating it was time to move, they gathered up and with me leading at the front left in a steady trot. All of us knew were there was prey the predators were sure to follow after. An hour later we stopped by a small well hidden- but still easily escapable- creek, the foals needed to rest a little before we moved again.
I checked my surroundings thoroughly, nothing seemed to have followed us. The pine and spruce trees were huge, towering over us like giant umbrellas almost menacingly, they smelled heavenly though. I'd always loved the smell of fresh forest pine. The wind breezed faintly through suddenly catching a familiar scent with it. I froze. It couldn't be?- Could it? Iola the young mare trotted over, her little hooves making no sound on the soft bed of needles on the forest floor. She had noticed my change in body language and expressed her concern blowing through her nostrils and nudging my shoulder.
I unfroze myself immediately, sending a warning call to my steadily getting further away herd. By now it was to late to run, I pushed Iola back behind me protectively all of us waiting for the on coming threat. A large orange tiger stepped in between the trees, it stood a large rock standing six feet above the floor, his tail flicking in annoyance. No one was breathing no one moved, the rest of the of the herd had smartly closed themselves in tight circle together, with the youngest and weakest in the middle.
The tiger suddenly leaped off the rock, gracefully landing on it's feet still not close to us. I pushed myself and Iola further back towards the herd. He watched our movements hungrily, licking his long white fangs. he began circling, his large paws made a surprising amount of noise with each step. I backed her up further still, now only a couple of feet away.
When he got to my side our eyes made contact his large yellow eyes full of hunger, mine were blazing with anger and fear. He suddenly stopped circling his ears flattened back his eyes showing a hint of fear. I pawed the ground angrily pushing Iola right at the herd. Now I was free to stand against him. I backed towards the rock luring him from the herd, who all watched silently the whites of their eyes showing how terrified they were. It worked he followed with a loud roar. He looked incredibly angry now, but I reared up showing him I wasn't afraid.
I threw my head up saying come get me! He crouched down and with incredible speed, pounced his sharp claws protruded ready to get me. I didn't move if he got me it would be enough my herd could get away then. But he never even landed. A huge black blur threw him out of the air, with an agonizing yowl. I watched as the young, black stallion kicked and stomped on the protesting animal mercilessly. He swiped his giant paw on the stallion's muscular shoulder. He cried out in pain but didn't give up.
I was suddenly overcome by rage at the tiger, how dare he hurt him! I galloped over helping him. Now out numbered the tiger began retreating but we kept it up chasing him right away from the herd. When it was out of sight I turned to him bowing my head and grooming him to show my gratitude. He made a sound of contentment in the back of his throat.
I laughed. This moment was a little bitter-sweet, because he helped us he was invited to join the herd but, I didn't know weather I could trust him or not. I looked into his eyes, they were beautiful golden-yellow tiger coloured eyes. I jerked back in shock, he mirrored my reactions. Tiger eyes....
"Enchanted" by Giorgio Baroni & Dharmesh Talwar
Rating - 133/200 Points
(Word limit Penalty - Minus 8 Points)
Final Rating - 125/200 Points
Judge - Mr. Mayank Sharma