|The Transformation Story Archive||Horses and Doggies and Cats, Oh my...|
The Clan of The Horse
The horse people. They were rumored to have the finest horses that the world had ever seen. Only one thing was wrong with that. They were also the most closely guarded animals on the face of the earth. Almost no one had ever really seen one of these wondrous animals. The Clan just didn't sell any of them, nor did they let anyone near the upland meadows where they were bred. It was a favorite sales pitch of normal horse merchants, that their horses alone had the blood of the Horse Clan in them. This could have never really been farther than the truth. Not only did no one know very much of these horses, but very few people had contact with the people either.
Jason, to put it lightly, loved horses. He got his first job in the village, helping out at the stable. This way, he could be near a wide and varied kinds of horses. Visitors to the village often rode these animals and they were from both near and far. Jason had spent most of his first wages buying a horse of his own, that the owner of the stable allowed him to keep there. It was nothing special, just a retired war pony, that had seen its better days, years ago, but still had some life left. Jason rode his horse any chance that he got.
He longed for an animal that he could call his own, that were as wonderful as some that stayed in the stable. He loved his old horse, but it wasn't very fast or spirited any longer. Every time a visitor came in, Jason would rush out to take the reigns from him and lead the animal inside and groom and feed it. One of the things that endeared him to his employer, was that he gave equal attention to each animal, whether it was a prancing race horse or a broken down plow horse. The patrons of the stable, raved about the care that their animals received at Jason's hands and Jason became known for his ability.
The one secret desire that Jason harbored, was to see a Horse Clan horse. Rumors of their exquisite size, power and stamina, caused him many a restless night. He could almost imagine what they would be like. He would have given anything to be able to see and touch one. He could imagine also, that he would go there and they would recognize his love for horses and let him see them. The one thing that brought him back to reality, was that many had tried to steal one of them or even so little as see one, had disappeared, never to be seen again. He thought he knew what had happened. The animals were so closely guarded, that the thieves had been caught and killed.
He had many times, thought of seeking out these people and trying to see these horses. To put it bluntly, he was scared. Jason had never been someone who took undue chances, but he wanted it so bad. He thought of a plan that might just get him what he wanted and let him return alive. The problem was, that it would be incredibly dangerous. Oh, he wasn't scared of what the Clan would do to him if they caught him. What he was scared of was the weather. The only way that he could even think of going there, was in the winter. That was the only time when their vigilance might relax a bit. If he timed it right, he could be in and out before they even knew.
It was the arrogance of the young that made him try it. Besides, he could be the only one to ever really see one of their horses. Jason had no real family. Mr. Parker had taken him in when he was very small and taken care of him. Jason couldn't remember his real family. Mr. Parker was the only person that he ever cared for, but he wasn't family. Jason bought and gathered his supplies and got ready to leave. He couldn't tell Mr. Parker what he was going to try, because he was afraid that he would stop him. He gathered his things in secret and got ready to leave. He would leave tonight, after everyone was asleep.
Jason saddled his old horse and put a pack on him and led him from the village. Only after he was out of earshot, did he mount and ride for the far land. He felt bad about leaving Mr. Parker for so long, but knew that he would get by. The neighbor's son, that sometimes helped out, could take over for a while. The last thing Jason had done was to write a note to his benefactor, explaining his dream and how he had to try. By the time that it was found in the morning, he would be far away, he hoped.
Jason knew that it would take nearly a month for him to get there and had packed plenty of food for the trip. Most of the trip would be though plains and forest where there weren't any people. He took a sword, that some traveling mercenary had left at the stable years ago and hoped that he could protect himself and his horse from animals. Nearly a week into the trip, Jason noticed that the leaves had started to fall at a rapid rate. He knew that he had to be through the pass and into their valley, before the first snow began to fly. As he neared the mountains, Jason realized that it was getting colder. He would wake each morning and shiver, even though he had a blanket.
Farther and farther into the mountains he traveled. Sometime soon, he would have to leave the trail and make his own. He knew that they would watch any known entrance into the valley. The air up here was thin and Jason was having some trouble adjusting to it. He had to get off of the horse and lead it sometimes. The animal path he followed was simply too rough to ride any longer. At least he didn't have to carry the pack, although it was much lighter that it had been weeks ago. He made camp for the night, thinking that he could make it into the valley its self tomorrow.
He had eaten a cold supper, afraid that some one would see or smell the smoke from a cooking fire. He lay down to sleep, thinking that the horse would warn him of potential danger. During the night, Jason was awakened by a scream of pain. He jumped up out of his blanket and grabbed for the sworn. There, where he had left the horse, was a huge brown bear. The horse was down on its side, with the bear attacking it. Jason approached the bear and stabbed it with the sword. He immediately took all attention from the horse and it attacked him. Jason never even had time to move. He could have never dreamed that an animal that large could move so fast! He brought the sword up just barely before he was trampled. The sword hilt stuck into the ground and the shaft of the sword went into the bear's chest and in fell right on top of Jason. He felt as if the mountain had fallen on him. That much dead weight laying on him was making it hard to catch his breath and the rank smell of the bear wasn't helping.
He struggled for quite a while and managed to get out from under the dead bear. He was dirty and smeared with blood, but thank the Gods, that it was none of his. He heard a wet sounding noise from the horse. He had forgotten about it for a moment. He went over to it and almost cried. There was a huge gaping gash in its chest and Jason could see bubbles coming from it. He knew then, that it was doomed. He did the hardest thing that he had ever had to do. He took the sword and put it out of its misery. Jason, exhausted and beaten, made it to the stream and took off his clothes and bathed. He shivered in the cold, but at least he was some what clean.
He had packed some spare clothes, which came in good now. He felt somewhat better after that, but he had to change plans. He packed and repacked his packs with only what he thought was very necessary. It never occurred to him to go back, but he just didn't think at the moment about how he was going to get back home with out a horse. Even though he was tired, he trod onward. He needed to get away from the scene of carnage. He longed to bury the old horse, but realized that it was impossible.
As he started down the mountain, Jason knew that something unusual was happening. It had grown steadily colder as the day wore on. The gray clouds hung low in the sky and began to spit ice pellets. Jason began to look for somewhere to hole up for a while. There was a heavy copse of trees ahead and he thought that this was what he was looking for. As he approached the woods, he heard a sound. It was a shrill whinny of terror. Jason looked around for what had made the sound, but saw nothing. Again, he heard the scream and stumbled forward. In a clearing, there was a muddy hole and stuck in the edge of it was a mare.
Jason could immediately see that she was in real trouble. She had been trying to get a drink and slipped in the mud and in her state of terror, only succeeded in getting more and more stuck. On top of everything else, Jason could see that she was very pregnant. Suddenly, he heard a snarl. There were wolves coming from the woods towards the mare. They were looking for a free meal. He didn't even think. He threw off the pack, grabbed the sword and ran to the mare's side. He laid about him with the sword and the wolves attacked. He somewhat sympathized with them. It was winter and they were hungry, But damn it, he had already lost one horse and was not about to loose another.
He had one advantage. They could only approach him from the front. The mare was at his rear and she was surrounded by muddy water. He nicked one wolf, that seemed to be the leader and the rest backed off, knowing now that he was truly dangerous. They circled the bog, looking for a way, but the only way to a meal, was through the sword. Then, after what seemed hours, they whimpered and faded away into the forest. Jason collapsed at the side of the horse, breathing hard. He lay there for a while, catching his breath, then forced himself to get up and try to help the mare out.
Jason was so tired. He looked at the situation with hopelessness. The task seemed impossible. He needed several teams of horses to extricate her. He took the sword and started to dig. The ground was almost frozen and the temperature was dropping. Jason was desperate! He dug and dug. The mare kept trying to lunge forward, but was held by the vacuum of the mud. She finally gave up and waited. Jason dug out from around her and scooped mud out from around her also. The sword wouldn't work, so he used his hands.
Shoulders ached and his back screamed for mercy, but Jason was driven. Fingernails tore and blood flowed, mixing with the mud around him and still he dug. He grabbed her tail and tugged. She managed a weak whinny ,but didn't move. Jason knew that if he couldn't get her up soon, there wouldn't be any chance left. He got into the mud by her side and took her ear in his mouth and bit hard. She squealed, but started to struggle again. Jason pushed and pulled with all of his might and with a sucking noise, she started to move. They had finally managed to break the hold of the mud. She managed to get up out of the hole and stood there trembling with fatigue.
Jason knew that she would be alright now. He collapsed to the ground and lay there completely done in.
Left to his own, he would have never gotten up again, but the mare shoved him again and again with her nose. She wouldn't leave him alone. Jason, cold and freezing, got to his hands and knees and crawled towards the trees. He got under their cover and couldn't go any farther. He lay there drifting in and out of consciousness. He never felt the weight that pressed against his side, bringing life saving warmth. Jason descended into blackness, where there was no cold and pain.
Jason was aware of warmth and sounds, much before he could see again. He forced open his eyes and saw through bleary eyes, that he was in some kind of tent. He and friends had made a tent when he was younger, but nothing like this. This thing was huge. All over the insides, that he was looking up at, were paintings of horses running and jumping. He was fascinated. Then he heard," so you are finally awake?" He looked up to find a woman standing by the skins on which he lay. He asked," Where am I?"
"You are in the camp of the Horse Clan," she replied.
Jason was startled. These were the people whom he had started out to find. He never expected to wake up in one of their tents. He remembered what others had said and a look or intense worry came over his face.
Noticing this, the woman told him," You do not have to worry young man, you are our honored guest. "Others who came to take what was not theirs, were dealt with accordingly, but we know that you did not come here for that." "Now that you are awake, the chief will want to speak with you."
The tent flap was tossed back and a huge man entered. He was dressed in similar style as the woman who had been talking with him.
"You are the young man that we found with one of our mares," he stated.
'I wasn't trying to steal her," Jason spouted suddenly.
"Young man, if you had been, you would have never awakened. We would have dealt with you as we have with countless others over the years. It was very unusual to find our mare lying besides a human, but when we saw the bog and signs of struggle, we knew the whole story."
The Chief went on," we saw the tracks of the wolves and where the mare was stuck." "I have a question. Why would you risk your own life for a mere horse?"
Jason thought this over and replied," I didn't even think. I had just lost my own horse to a bear and couldn't let it happen again. I would have helped any animal, but especially her. I have never seen her like anywhere. I had to try."
"You have shown the one quality that we value above all others," the Chief replied. The love of horses." "They are our life and reason for being here. They are a gift from the Gods, given into our care and we never thought there would be an outsider that showed a love as deep as ours." "We have much to discuss when you are better. I will explain all to you later, but for now sleep."
Jason drifted off to sleep, comforted that once again he was safe. When he awoke again, he felt better. Rested and no longer feeling every ache and pain, he started to get up, when he realized that he was naked under the covers. He was embarrassed. The woman said to him," there are clothes for you besides the sleep skins. Your others were beyond hope. They will fit, made by my own hand, while you were asleep."
She was amused by Jason's offended modesty and left the tent while he put them on. He made his way outside and what he saw amazed him. There were a hundred other tents scattered across the meadow, but the grass was hardly even marred. His own people would have scraped the ground bare. Obviously, these people were more in tune with nature than any he had ever seen. The Chief was on the way over and Jason looked forward to talking with him again. He had so many questions.
"Jason," The Chief said," I know you have many questions about us, but I need to talk with you about the future." "Let me explain a few things and we will see if your questions are answered." "My people were put here to guard the favorite animal of the our God. We all share a special bond with our animals and that is why we never sell or trade any of our animals. All of our tribe, as they become adults, have to go through initiation. You are a problem young man. There is no other of your age that has not been initiated and you are going to have to face a decision."
Jason wondered what the Chief was talking about, but decided to wait until he finished the explanation, before he spoke.
"Because of you bravery in saving the mare, you are being given a choice, that no other ever has had," Jason was told. 'The first choice is to go back to your old life and forget about us. We will put you aboard a normal horse, set you free near your village, but you will retain no memory of us." "The second choice, is to under go the initiation and become one of us. You have already shown the compassion for horses that we might ask of you and I think that I would be glad to welcome you. It is your choice, but I must have an answer in the morning. We won't anger our God."
Jason was left alone with his thoughts. He had almost said yes, right then and there. It had been his first thought. He couldn't have asked for more than this, but questions were racing around his mind. What was this initiation? The Chief would not or could not tell him of it. He would have to take it as a blind trust. He wasn't sure that he could do this, although he didn't think that they would harm him. Then, as he thought on further, he realized that the only way he would ever see the mare again, was to do as they wished. He couldn't get her out of his mind. She had been a creature out of his imagination.
With little or no fanfare, Jason was turned over to the Clan Medicine man and led from the village. It seemed that they didn't waste time. He was led to a hill that over looked the meadow where the horses were. Jason was amazed at what he saw. There must have over a hundred animals in sight. He just stopped and stared for a minute. The old medicine man grabbed his arm and led him forward. Jason saw that up ahead, there was a type of stone altar. It was unadorned and plain, but some how held an unseen power. He was led forward and the old man suddenly told him to strip.
It was the dead of winter and when Jason didn't comply rapidly enough, he reached over and stripped the shirt from his back. Jason was mad at that point, at the rough treatment. The old man then told him to learn the phrase that he spoke. He repeated it only two times, but it seemed to stick in Jason's head. The old man instructed him to lift his arms to the sky and repeat the phrase, putting meaning in it. Jason wanted to ask what it was, as it was in no language that he had ever heard before. He prepared to do as asked, as the old man retreated to a safe distance. Jason was really worried, but went ahead with the instructions.
Suprisingly, he had no trouble repeating the chant that he had been given. He marveled at this even as he spoke it. He raised his arms upward, as if in a plea and said the chant over and over. He was shivering with cold, but did not stop. As he stared upward, a huge dark cloud, suddenly drifted over him. Then, so fast that no human eye could see, a bolt of lightning came from the could and struck Jason. The instant thought of death flashed through his mind. He was transfixed and paralyzed by the bolt.
Then things began to happen. The hands that he had before, suddenly went numb and changed. Arms got longer and were covered with hair. His neck grew both outward and upward at the same time. His head felt as though it exploded outward, as he realized that he now had a muzzle. He felt his ears intensely now, but in a different place. His spine lengthened and curved slightly. Buttocks and legs were gripped in change. He grew rapidly larger and fell to all four feet, the back ones ending in hooves also. A last surge and Jason realized that he had become a horse, tail and all.
As suddenly as it had started, it was over. Jason tried to speak and let out a whinny. He had lost the power of speech. He trembled as he took his first four legged step. Muscles that he had never had before, surged under new, tougher skin. He could feel every portion of this new form. He was so distracted, that he hadn't heard the Medicine man approach. He gripped Jason's mane and spoke into his ear.
"You are truly the favored of the Gods. They have gifted you with horse form, so that you might learn what it is to be a horse," the old man told him. "You have remained a stallion, but you can and will father a new addition to the herd. It will be your place to help your mare raise and protect the young from harm until it is weaned. In this way, you will make a contribution to the herd and learn what you must, to be a Clan Member. All members of the clan, including me, have done so before you. After the young is weaned, you will return to human form, to begin your new life. Your service to your God starts now.
For the last few minutes, as the old man had been talking, Jason had scented something enticing. Even if he didn't know what it was, his new form did. A second member of the clan was leading a mare forward. As They got closer, Jason got a stronger scent from the female, and control departed. The horse that he was, knew what to do and Jason couldn't have stopped himself if he had wanted to. He was immersed in a primal passion that defied rational thought. He mounted her again and again. After what seemed like hours, Jason regained some rational thought. He looked at his mare and all around for the others. He never even knew that the others had left. He moved over to his mare and they went to join the herd.
Jason rapidly became used to life in the herd. The days were filled with grazing and at night, there was the company of the others. He grew used to always having herd mates around and when the time came for his mare to give birth, they left the herd to do so alone. The human in Jason realized that these were like no horses that he had ever known. They were far more intelligent and now he realized why. They had been infused with human ability to reason and intelligence. Soon, there would be a new addition to the herd. Jason was going to be a proud father.
Jason's time as a horse came to a close, all too soon. Some might think that it would be bad thing to be an animal, but Jason found that it was comforting. You had no worries beyond the moment. His son was weaned and Jason, one sunny morning, found himself lying on the wet ground. He had a bad feeling, then realized that he was human once more. He made his way back to the Clan village. There were people all about, but his nakedness no longer caused him any concern. He went to the tent of the chief and as he approached, there was much rejoicing.
There was a feast in his honor that night. They celebrated his return and the fine addition to the herd that he had fathered. Jason had seen the colt following him, looking confused. He knew that this two legged being had been his father, but was different also. Jason looked back with a certain sadness at his son. He was no longer part of the herd, but as he watched his son prance and run, there was a feeling of pride. Now, he knew why these horses meant so much to the clan. They were family, so to speak. You never sold or traded your own family. He found no regrets as he thought on his time as a horse. He would always look back on it with wonder.
After the celebrations, Jason was given a tent of his own, made by the chiefs wife. He had never been more proud, because it meant that he was truly of the clan now. As he was getting it set up, he looked up to see a young, quite beautiful, woman walking through the village. Something was so familiar about her. He had met no one like her before had he? Then as she came closer, he scented her. It seemed that something from his experience had carried over to humanity. He would know that scent anywhere. It was her! This marvelous creature had been his mare. He never even thought that there might be another human convert in the herd.
Upon seeing each other, recognition dawned at the same time and they ran to each other and hugged. Neither knew it, but this almost always happened, when two underwent the initiation at the same time and were mates as horses. All they knew, is that they were meant for each other. Jason had no thought for the future right now. The moment overruled all thought. He had a true home now, a mate to cherish and he felt complete for the first time in his short life. The two young lovers moved in together.
The chief smiled. Now, he had a daughter and a son!
The Clan of The Horse copyright 1997 by Tekwolf.
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