The Ebon Stallion

A horse breeder of Mounch bred a war steed with a temperamental mare known better for her speed than her brains. The resulting foal was black as the starless night of his birth, and the mare who foaled him died that night.

The horse breeder was grieved by the death of his famous mare, but delighted with the beautiful young foal. He prepared to raise it by hand. However, the foal kicked and bit any who came near him, surviving by stealing from other mares after driving their foals away.

Finally, the breeder managed to pen the young stallion in an enclosure separated from the rest of the herd. How he managed this is a story in its own right, which I will tell some other time.

The young stallion grew to be fast as the wind and strong as an ox, but would not allow any man to touch him. One day, a young noble came by to purchase some horses for his father's estate. Spying the stallion, he asked its price.

The noble's father had been a good patron to the breeder, so he responded in good faith that he could not sell the horse, although he must have been sorely tempted.

The noble lad would not believe him, and argued and cajoled until the breeder finally capitulated. The nobleman saw its beauty and fire, and would not believe it couldn't be tamed. He led it behind him as he continued his travels, mulling over the breeder's warnings.

At last he reached the end of his self restraint. The stallion still had an evil gleam in its eye, but had followed docilely enough for days. Removing the saddle from his own horse once he had stopped for the evening, the young noble approached the recalcitrant stallion. The horse, of course, refused the burden and kicked out at its bearer, killing the young noble.

The townsfolk gathered nearby, grieved by the death of their young lord, but unable to get close enough to the stallion to retrieve his body. The guard was called, and commanded to destroy the man-killing horse.

As the guardsmen lowered their bows to shoot the horse, a slender woman appeared between the guards and the stallion. "You shall not have him!" she exclaimed. Grasping the steed's mane, she swung herself up on his bare back. The stallion bucked and spun until the woman spoke a sharp word in a strange language. Startled, the steed stilled, then raced through the town gates.

The crowd hastened to follow, but when they reached the gates the horse and its rider had vanished, as had the trail of hoofprints they had been following.