Just a little continuation of chapter four, because the scene caught my attention on my latest reread. The italicized bit at the beginning is a direct quote from the chapter, and I certainly won't claim it as my own.


SEAN

I turn around and there is a horse.

It is close enough to smell the briny odor of it, close enough to feel the warmth off its still-wet skin, close enough to look into its eye and see its dilated square pupil. I smell blood on its breath.

It's too dark to see its true color. In the reflected light it looks black, but so do many drenched horses, and I know enough of sea-fresh capaill to guess that it's chestnut or bay. Maybe even red.

The horse's head is twisted slightly so it can look at me with its left eye.

Years have passed since my father was torn from his capall and trampled, but I think I recognize this horse's shoulder, the curve of its back.

This is the horse that did not eat my father. I am sure of it.

We are silent aside from the huff of his breath and the quiet beat of my heart. I should be afraid—this one is just as monstrous as the rest—but I remember the soft skin behind his ear and the way he listened to what I asked of him.

I bring my hands to his cheeks, tracing small, counterclockwise circles. The red stallion clucks under his breath and Brian Carroll is right, the sound is like Thomas Gratton's deep laugh for a moment before it becomes a sharper, more predatory keen.

The scent of blood from his mouth overwhelms me, and I remember the cut on my palm. My blood is on this horse's skin.

Light flashes off the water. I look down at the late September ocean lapping at our feet. I look back at the stallion, the capall my father never named, and I know what to do.

He doesn't move when I swing onto his back, using nothing but the rocks beneath my feet and a handful of his mane. We're still for a heartbeat in the half-formed cave. I take a breath—I know what to do. The water is too high for anything else, though my heart trips uncertainly in my chest and the capall twitches restlessly beneath me.

Tying knots of threes and sevens into the mane in my hand, I ask him to move.

It's been three years since my father died and three years since I have ridden this stallion, but I haven't forgotten his stride or the way his November magic calls to me, even now.

We slide into the water with less sound than a sigh.

I can feel the way his body changes beneath mine, becoming sinuous and longer, and the magic in him calls to me, but my blood is on his cheek. I whisper into his neck, "You will not be the one to drown me."

We very well may slip into the Scorpio sea someday and never return, but tonight we will return to Malvern Yard. I will put him in the teind stall that has been empty for nearly a year, and in the morning, I will ask Malvern if I can ride the red stallion in the races. Malvern will say yes.

I whisper this into his mane, and because the island favors the brave, he does not drown me.

The day he hired me as a stable hand, Malvern told me that, just as with any foal I helped birth, any capall I caught belonged to him. When we reach the beach I consider, for a moment, releasing the red stallion back into the waves. In many ways, it would likely be a much kinder fate for both of us. But this is the first capall I rode after my mother left, the capall my father was riding the day he died. I cannot give him back to the sea. Not yet.

Long after we return to the stables—through the dawn and my morning duties and lunch and sunset—I feel the sea calling to me. Its song is addictive and alluring, and only quiets when I touch the red stallion once more.

A month and a day later we lose to Ian Privett on his gray, Penda. But with my blood on his skin and his magic in my veins, we do not drown.

I name him Corr.


I hope you enjoyed it! Reviews and favorites are much appreciated, and feel free to visit me on tumblr (skatzaa) so we can cry together about the perfection of this book.

Read on,
Skats