Tamer of Horses, pts 2 and 3
Since these are vignettes, some of them are really short, so here’s two of them!
It was not long before little Hector was sneaking from the high citadel, running joyfully through the grasses that reached to his chubby belly. Always by the time his panicked nurse found him, an old woman apparently prone to fits of dozing, he would be swimming at my surface or playing in the mud at my bank. She would grab him roughly by the ear, scolding him and ignoring his squawks of protest. “Your parents will have my hide if they find out I’ve lost you again!”
Head tilted painfully as he stumbled after her, he would always shout, “They’ll be mad if you rip off my ear, too!” She would let go. Scowling and glaring, with a a longing glance back at my wide expanse, he would reluctantly follow her back to the high walls of Ilion. He was a child always hungry for the openness of the plain and the feel of the wind in his dark, wavy hair.
The stars wheeled in the skies overhead, seasons turning, and the chubby child was growing into a lean, swift young man. In the mornings now he would be on the plain outside the city walls, practicing with a spear and shield. His teacher was a middle-aged man called Xanthos, forearms knotted with thick muscles and puckered scars. He walked with a limp on rainy days, but his back was as straight and proud as an ashen spear, formidable as a flood. There were other boys in his teaching, too, the sons of noble houses. Hour after hour, every day, he drilled them in the art of war. He taught them the simple moves first, the thrust and the block and the parry, then the more complex moves; how to combine them, how to make the shield and spear as much a part of you as the hands that held them.
He taught them to flow like water, graceful and never still: swift as a raging flood at times and slow as a nearly-dry creek at others. Never in all my long life have I seen a man move so effortless as Hektor, even then, before the beard darkened his cheeks and the muscles grew lean and hard from war. He learned to fight with the certainty of water flowing, the greatest gift I had given him, one that would earn him a reputation as the best fighter the Trojans could bring to battle. Just as water flows through rock and carves its way through something much stronger than itself through sheer persistence, so did Hector learn to fight. But there is one thing more inexorable than water cutting through stone, and fate, like water, has a will all its own.