NOTE: Rewrite posted 6/26 Better?
Chapter 1: Fanfare
“Rhys is listless, not eating…” Mum’s voice trailed off as the winged colt collapsed like an empty burlap sack.
Emma dropped to the floor, heedless of her skirts, and cradled Rhys’s head. A flickering lantern lit the dim stall.
“Mum?” she asked. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s fevered. Try giving him some water,” her mother said.
“Iawn, del,” Emma murmured in Welsh as she dribbled a handful of liquid into Rhys’s mouth.
“Water balances fever, but he’ll need more than that to survive the day. Maybe the mare’s milk…” Mum broke off. “Emma, don’t risk angering your father today of all days. I’ll care for Rhys. Go.”
“Da won’t notice I’m not there.”
“Cariad, you’re sixteen. Time to take over your responsibilities to the barn and the family.”
Emma reluctantly laid the colt’s head on the straw and rose. “Send a groom if you need me.”
Her mother nodded, turning back to the colt and reaching to fold his stubby wings.
Outside the sanctuary of the colt’s stall, the rest of the barn came alive as the sun rose. Riders and grooms scurried forth clad in blue and silver barn colors. For her father it was all about the glory of the barn, and to Rhiannon’s Fire with everything else. Da focused more on winning the Aerial Games than on sick colts, or daughters. Emma couldn’t deal with him right now. She slipped away from the barn and headed for the place she felt most welcome—the barn of Da’s biggest rival.
That’s 250. Does it grab you?
On my Kindle: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin