The horse pelted through the trees. The girl riding her bent low over the horse' neck, urging the mare on. Behind them, a group of boars and their riders were giving chase. One of the riders drew back his bow, its flaming arrow trained on the girl. The girl managed to duck just as the arrow went whizzing past her head. The mare whinnied in fright and put on an extra burst of speed. The girl sat straight and drew her own bow. With practised ease she released the drawstring and despite the rain pelting down, nearly blinding her, the arrow thudded into the chest of one of the riders. It collapsed off its boar with a gurgle. The girl quickly turned back to the front, once more bent low over of the mare's neck. The battered cart behind them rocked dangerously as its wheels caught on rocks. Spluttering flames flickered on the bundle of items there. Lightning flashed across the sky, illuminating the dark forest. Behind her, the lightning lit up the grotesque faces of her pursuers.

On the ran through the storm, flaming arrows whistled past the girl's ear. One rider drew back his bow and with outstanding accuracy fired. The girl screamed as it embedded herself in her shoulder. Pain blossomed in her shoulder, lights danced in front of her eyes as the pain and exhaustion began to take its toll. The ground shook with the roar of water. The mare screamed in fear and galloped on, fighting the fatigue that deadened her legs. The girl risked a glance behind her. From the mountain tumbled a mass of rock, mud and trees. At the last moment, the horse leapt up onto a ridge and began galloping up the steep slope. There was a shriek as the landslide washed over their pursuers. The girl looked back to see their grubby hands clawing the air as they were swept away by the mud and rocks.

Her horse leapt down onto a wider track. As they galloped, the girl's consciousness began to slip away. A silver fox leapt in front of them. The mare skidded to a halt and reared, the whites of her eyes showing. The horse's neck connected with the girl's head and she was knocked to the floor. The mare whinnied in fear and backed away towards the girl. The fox crept forward, sniffing at the girl. The mare snorted and snapped. The commotion attracted a whole menagerie of creatures. Two sparrows flew from the scene, one east the other west.

"Urgh…" the girl groaned.

Her eyes flickered open and immediately her hand flew to her head as pain exploded in her brain.

"Hey, take it easy." A voice said.

The girl allowed herself to be pushed back down. As she did so, everything came flooding back. She sat back up again.

"Where am I?" she said.

"Don't worry, you're safe now." Another voice said. "Can you tell us your name?"

The girl thought about it for a moment. She looked up at the face of the speaker. He was a kindly man with fading blonde hair and soft blue eyes. The girl studied him, her eyes scrutinising him.

"If it makes you feel any better, my name is Rutger, mayor of Bluebell."

A woman suddenly barged in on the girl's vision causing her to jump.

"Lay off Rutger." She turned to the girl. "My name is Ina, mayor of Konohana."

The woman wore a red headdress and her steely dark eyes were soft with concern. The girl sensed waves of annoyance emanating from both mayors. Worrying a fight might break out, the girl decided to comply.

"My name is Dea, Dea Arduinna." The girl said.

"Nice to meet you Dea. How are you feeling?" Ina asked.

"I've got Dark Nuts playing whack-a-mole in my head and stalhounds chewing on my shoulder." She replied matter-of-factly.

The two mayors exchanged confused glances.

"Where am I?" Dea asked.

"In konohana clinic." Ina explained.

Rutger shot daggers at the woman.

"Where's my horse?"

"Oh don't worry, Kana is looking after her." Ina explained.

Dea went to get up.

"You're not fully healed yet." A woman in a white coat said, gently pushing her back down.

Dea resisted a little, but there was little heart in it.

"The…the fox…did I hurt him?" she asked.

"Oh, so he was the one who made you fall?" Ina asked.

Dea nodded.

"He's fine, a little frightened perhaps but completely unharmed." Rutger assured her.

The girl let out a long sigh of relief. Thank Nayru.

"You're going to need a place to stay." Rutger said after a while.

"Yes, I have a vacant farm here." Ina explained.

"So do I." Rutger added.

Ina narrowed her eyes at this.

"Yes, well in Konohana, we grow crops. The farm here is perfectly suited to growing and harvesting many crops. We even had a small barn for your animals." She explained.

"Yes well in Bluebell we focus on livestock. The farm there is perfectly adapted to raising many livestock. And we have a few fields for cops as well." The bluebell mayor said, butting in.

Ina's face screwed up into a pout.

"Um…" Dea weighed out her options.

"You need rest. Your body is physically drained and your wounds need rest as well. And you need to relax, psychologically you're a wreck." Explained the woman that obviously seemed to be the doctor.

Dea looked out the window. She knew she had to keep moving. And she didn't want to lead any enemies here either. But…she hadn't slept properly in weeks and she knew she wouldn't last long in this condition. Sighing, Dea saw she had no choice.

"Ok, I grew up on a goat farm so I guess it's better if I stayed in bluebell. I don't mean to offend you or your town in any way, I just get along with animals better." Dea decided.

"Ha, in your face!" Rutger jeered.

Dea sighed and looked up at the doctor.

"Are they always like this?" she asked.


It took a few days before the doctor, who's name she learned was Ayame, deemed her fit enough to travel. In that time, she learnt quite a bit about Konohana and Bluebell and their differences. However, when she at long last was fit enough to travel, Rutger led her to Kana's stable.

Dea waited patiently to one side while the mayor knocked on the door. After a while, a young man with brunette hair pulled back in a ponytail and casual farm clothes opened the door.

"What brings you here Rutger?" he asked, not all too friendly.

"Dea here has come to collect her horse." Rutger motioned to Dea.

Kana looked to where the girl was supposed to be.

"There's no-one there Rutger." He said.

Rutger looked to where he last saw Dea.

"What the-? Where'd she go?" the old man looked around wildly.

Dea in fact, had climbed over the fence and was walking to the stable. She could sense her mare and it drew her to the horse. Dea poked her head round the stable door. In there stood her mare looking forlorn. Next to her stood a bay horse who seemed to be comforting her. The mare pricked up her ears and looked to the door. Her warm brown eyes fell upon Dea. With a whinny of joy, the mare trotted over.

"Hello to you to girl!" Dea said, hugging the horse's face.

The mare was a coppery gold chestnut with a cream white blaze that snaked down her face. The mare also had four cream white stockings with feathering a long cream mane and tail.

Kana heard the whinny and his eyes shot to the stable.

"She didn't!"

The boy vaulted the fence and legged it to the stable. However, when he entered, he was met with quite a surprise. The horses were crowded round the girl. The girl in question was hugging her own mare, clinging to her and whispering in her ear. The girl seemed to notice him for she turned around.

"Oh, sorry…" she said, hanging her head.

The bay horse snorted and shook her mane. Stepping in front of the girl.

"Hayate? What's got into you?" Kana asked.

Dea put a hand on the horse's rump, which as far as Kana was concerned, a sure-fire way of getting kicked. Yet Hayate just turned to look at the girl. The girl whispered something and the horse moved aside.

"Your horse really loves you, you know." She told him, looking at the mare with caring eyes.

"You what?" he exclaimed, taken aback by the statement.

Rutger, seeing how the situation was going, stepped in.

"Thank-you for caring for Dea's horse Kana. But now we really must be going."

Dea nodded.

"Thank-you for caring for her, I'm very thankful."

"Uh…yeah…your cart's in the shed." Kana replied dumbfounded.

Dea nodded. With one hand on the horse's neck, she led her mare outside. With practised ease, she hitched her to the cart. Checking the cart quickly, it was badly damaged but amazingly, Kana had fixed it up pretty well. The girl vaulted onto her mare's back and trotted out of the field.

"Thank-you!" she called.

Kana could only watch, dumbfounded, as she cantered away.

Dea kept close to Rutger. He himself was sat in a sturdy blue striped wagon pulled by a dun Shetland pony. It was daylight now, and the rain had long since ceased to fall. Dea vaguely recognized the area from the chase. It took them a good hour or so to reach the bluebell. Dea spent the journey marvelling at the peaceful landscape. A sparrow fled as soon as it caught sight of the party and an otter lounging by a shallow stream dove into the crystal water. A great brown bear sat in the shade of a tree, chewing on a fish. It gave a warning growl as the two horses galloped past. Dea smiled, it was all so peaceful here.

Before long, they reached the town. Dea followed Rutger down a small path some five minutes from the forest's entrance. The path opened up into a beautiful little farm. Rutger brought his pony to a stop and climbed down from the wagon. Dea dismounted and unhitched her mare, allowing her to roam the fields and graze.

The farm itself consisted of two large fields on opposite sides of the area. Both had a barn linked to it. Between them, backed up onto a thickly wooded area, was a small cosy cottage.

"This Dea, will be your home from now on." Rutger announced formerly.

Dea drank in the sights, it was so much like her own home yet so different. Her mare too, seemed to marvel at the farm's beauty.

"Shall we?" Rutger asked, opening the door to the cottage.

Dea entered her new home. It was small, with only one room yet it was cosy. An empty fireplace sat by the bed. A table stood in the middle of the room. It was at this table that the two people sat down.

"I'll inform the people here of your arrival. There's a kitchen here, but unfortunately there aren't any utensils. I'll ask Howard to give you free meals until we can find some utensils for you. I'll drop by tomorrow to see how you're doing." Rutger stood. "I'll see you tomorrow, good bye."

And with that, the old man left. Dea sighed and got to her feet. She felt confused and tired. The girl left her house and found her mare, grazing in the larger of the two fields. She pricked her ears up and trotted over to her mistress.

"What say you to nice canter in the woods?" she asked.

The mare nickered and nuzzled her fondly. Dea smiled and swung up onto the mare's back. With a snort of excitement, the horse trotted out of the farm. Out the farm, they headed south in to the forest. Out here, Dea's keen senses picked up the sound of fish splashing in the shallow water. Dea dismounted and headed over to the water's edge.

The girl stood by the water. She watched the fish dart beneath the surface. She saw herself, reflected in its clear waters.

Her sandy blonde hair was long and tangled. Her skin could've once been pale but long hours in the sun had made it darker, more tanned. Her green clothes were ripped and dirty and her boots scuffed and tattered. The only thing that looked at all familiar were her cerulean blue eyes, as wild and bright as ever.

Dea crouched over the water, hands poised above the surface. A fish swam beneath her, with lightning fast reflexes, Dea's hands sliced through the water, grabbing hold of the fish easily. Quickly, the girl threw the fish onto the bank. Another two more followed it. Content with her catch, Dea walked over to the fish. They still struggled and it tugged at her heart. Bending over them, deftly snapped the necks, killing them quickly. The girl then scoped around for some branches. After gathering some materials, Dea sat down by the water's edge and started a fire. Once she had a small fire going, she skewered the fish on some thin sticks and put them over the fire. While the fish cooked, Dea looked about for other things the forest might offer.

By the time the fish were cooked, Dea had found some tasty edible mushrooms and herbs. She had also found some honeycomb with a bit of honey inside. Dea called over her horse. The mare obediently trotted over and lay down beside Dea. Dea gave the mare some Chamomile that she had mixed with honey and tree bark to make a sort of flat cake. The horse gratefully chomped it down, as well two others. With her mare fed, Dea set on taking the fish from the fire. She placed the hot food on a large flat rock.

The girl sensed eyes on her, she turned to see an otter, looking at the fish longingly. Smiling, Dea took on of the fish and placed the warm meat in her hand. She held it out to the creature.

"Here you go." She said soothingly.

The otter trotted up, unafraid. It looked up at her for a moment before picking the fish up in its jaws and scampering away to feast on a nearby rock.

Dea chuckled and set on smearing the fish with honey and herbs. She then took the mushrooms from the fire and stuffed them inside the two remaining fish. Smiling down at her handiwork, the girl leant back against her mare.

"Mind if I join you?" a familiar voice asked.

Dea looked up to see Kana standing by the track.


The boy walked over and sat down next to her. Behind him came his horse who lay down next to Epona.

"Fish?" Dea asked.

"uh…yes please…"

The girl handed him a fish. She watched him intently as he bit into it.

"Wow, this is good." He exclaimed as he chewed the white meat.

A smile broke on Dea's face. For a while, there was silence as the two humans feasted. Once he'd finished, Kana watched Dea.

The girl was just finishing off her food. Despite looking relaxed, he could sense her fear and cautiousness. In fact, she reminded him very much of an animal. He'd grown up with horses so had long since learnt to read emotions.

Her long unkempt hair looked like it hadn't seen a comb in years and her ripped dirty clothes didn't look like they'd last much longer. But her eyes, those deep blue eyes, they seemed to glow with a light of their own.

Dea finished off her fish and threw the stick on the fire. She then took a flat cake off of the stone and handed it Kana.

"Here, give this to your horse." She told him.

Kana nodded and looked at the flat cake.

"Don't worry, it's safe to eat. It's got honey, chamomile and tree bark. It's completely safe." She assured him.

Kana gave the cake one more scrutinising look before offering it to the bay mare behind him. The horse snuffled it up quickly, closing her eyes in bliss.

Kana turned back to Dea.

"Listen, I wanted to apologise, for the way I acted before." Kana said.

"Don't apologise, I shouldn't have snuck into your stable." She fixed him with those cerulean eyes. "Thank you for looking after Epona, and for fixing my cart."

"Epona? As in the mare?"

Dea nodded.

"Yeah, this is Epona. She belongs to my father. But, I'm borrowing her until I'm able to return."

"You mean you stole her." Kana said.

Dea looked at him with shocked eyes, as if the very notion of somebody stealing was unthinkable.

"No, no of course not. My father gave her to me…the last time I saw him…" she trailed off.

Kana looked away, feeling awkward.

"But hey, what's your mare called?"

"Hayate." Kana said, patting the bay fondly on the neck.

Dea smiled. She said something in a foreign language and the horse nickered a reply. Kana gave her a strange look. But Dea didn't care, if what the mare said was true, she may have finally found a friend she could trust. A friend who maybe, just maybe, could help her. The girl turned her eyes to the full moon. One day, one day soon, she would find her father and be reunited with her family. One day…