Epona leaves the Clearing to prove a legend.
“To the edge of the forest,” I said, trotting toward the end of the clearing.
“Epona!” he called, cantering after me, “Isn't that forbidden?”
“I got permission,” I told Kaklin, “From the herd stallion himself. I'm going to prove the legend is true.”
“Ahern let you go?” Kaklin asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“To prove the legend? You know it's more like a myth, right? Besides, what would you gain from going out of the woods? Isn't there an evil curse or something?”
“I'm sure they just added that so that no one would leave,” I said, “Why, do you want me to take someone with me, like Pippa?”
Kaklin rolled his eyes. “Like Pippa would protect you any. I was thinking,” Kaklin paused a moment and tightened his grip on his scabbard, flexing his muscles, “I could go with you.”
“You?” I snorted.
“I've been allowed to go into the forest on hunting trips before. You haven't.”
“That's because colts are allowed to hunt at a younger age than fillies,” I explained, “But I'm just as capable as you are. I don't need your protection.”
“You're as silly as that centaur who went off to search for the lost treasure quite a few years ago. At least go with someone who can gallop for help if you get into trouble or something.”
“Fine,” I sighed, “But only because you're such a bother. Now you better find someone willing to go with me and get them ready soon, or else I'm going to leave by myself.”
Kaklin galloped across the field. Of course, I never expected him to go to the tent next to ours to find someone to go with me. I knew who lived there. He was Kaklin's best friend, so of course that would be who he'd want me to go with.
Tasunke walked out with a sword in hand and its scabbard secured around his waist. Stallions were always weird to me. For some reason, they'd rather carry a sword than a bow and a quiver full of arrows, like I did. As I watched a bit longer, I noticed he already had a saddlebag on, as if he had prepared in advance for this trip.
Tasunke galloped to me, then walked ahead.
“Come on, Epona. Kaklin told me you needed some male company.”
I gritted my teeth. Why did Kaklin tell him that? I wondered. I let it go, although, I noted, if he were to do that the whole time, I might just have to lose him somewhere in the forest.
We trotted along an often-used path, one that the centaurs usually only used to find prey to hunt. The whole time, Tasunke was gabbing like a filly.
“So, Epona, why did you leave?” Tasunke asked.
I stayed silent.
“You know, there's probably no truth to this legend, anyway.”
I was still quiet. I hoped if I didn't answer, he would get the drift.
“How do you get along with Kaklin, then?”
Tasunke already knew the answer to that. He must've been trying to annoy me. If so, it was beginning to work.
“Well enough?” Tasunke answered his own question, as if he were talking to himself, “Good, good. We're quite good friends, if you didn't know. We've even camped under the trees before, all by ourselves.”
Once again, I gave no reply. Tasunke was treating me as though I was a complete stranger. I wished he would just be quiet.
“You know, the Clearing is a really nice place to live. I like how we live in tents, even though we don't move them. Do you like that, Epona?”
I couldn't hold it anymore. “Tasunke, would you just be quiet?” I snapped, “I decided to go, not you. I'm only taking you because my brother's a pest and a bother! Now you better do what I say, because I'm leading this expedition, understand?”
Tasunke's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. Normally, fillies don't talk like that. We try not to be bossy unless we have to.
“Good. Now follow me.”
I knew the map by heart. I had always wanted to find the legendary Portal that supposedly led to another world, ever since I was a young filly, hearing the legend for the first time. I knew to go down the path until it came to a dead end, then turn left and onto an older, more forgotten path. I knew that I should continue down this path until there was a purple glow in the dirt in front of us.
We soon arrived. I was amazed at the thought of being in a legendary place such as this. I felt an urge to walk onto the purple-glowing ground. I couldn't help it. I stepped one hoof onto it, then another. It had an odd feeling, like something out of a dream.
“Come on, Tasunke,” I called, “This feels so nice. Come on!”
Tasunke stared at me as though I was a completely different beast. His face paled and his nostrils flared as he backed up, then turned around and galloped off. Puzzled, I looked at myself. Or, at least, I tried to. I couldn't quite see my arms or torso. In fact, the small part of my neck that I could see had been somehow thickened and was connected directly to my back.
Startled, I realized I had transformed into a mythical creature known as a horse. I closed my eyes and only then remembered the curse.
Whoever travels through the Portal will not retain their form.
There was only one way I could go back and become a centaur once more, but I knew it would be a difficult journey. With a shake of my head, I galloped off to find myself.