Horizon - Chapter 4 - The Battle Of Ghosts
Leaving the village where he had encountered Levil and the Demon, Horizon set off again,
following where his arrow of destiny pointed.
As Horizon travelled along one of the long grey cobbled roads which wound through Shimmerias countryside he passed close to a field which he saw was full of large Red poppies that released an enchanting scent and he entered the field to pick some.
However, no sooner had he bent down to pick one of the strange flowers than he heard from behind him the sound of a military bugle calling out of the darkness but standing up straight again he could see no-one who could be playing a bugle
and thought that perhaps he had imagined it or perhaps confused the moo of a Cow or the bleat of a ewe with a bugle. However,upon bending down once more to pick the poppies he heard the sound of drumming.
“Drumming”, thought Horizon, “What could that be? The wind perhaps,rattling a farm gate or water dripping onto an old hollow tree trunk?”.
But no. As soon as he turned around he saw what looked like an army advancing Westward across the field and terrified of facing such overwhelming numbers in a fight he began to run westward but to his shock he saw another army coming eastward towards him and so he ran the other way.
But it was no good. He was trapped between the two mysterious armies. Apparently he had walked into the middle of some kind of battle.Perhaps,he thought, he would have to join one of the sides in order to survive.
Horizon considered it but as he thought about it he noticed something odd about the opposing ranks closing in upon him. They seemed to be transparent like ghosts.
Were they ghost armies? The dead of some ancient battle now resurrected,perhaps by some spell or the moon above him? Horizon didn’t know what to think.
As he looked more closely at the many faces now moving toward him he could see clearly that they were definitely not among the living because their eyes were sunken like shadowy craters and, beneath their ragged uniforms, he could make out the white glint of their skeletal bodies. They were living skeletons.
“Perhaps”,hoped Horizon, “If they are ghosts then they might be immaterial and I may be able to walk right through them”.
But when he tried to do so he felt one of the skeletal hands reach out and grip his throat and just as suddenly a broad sword was lifted over his head.
“Help!”, screamed Horizon, “Am I about to die even though my destiny is not yet half achieved?”.
But then,all of a sudden, Horizon felt a wetness upon his face that was warm which at first he thought must be his own blood or perhaps the rain but then he opened his eyes to discover that it was his horse Volvan licking his face.
What had happened? Now,when he looked around him there were no armies; only the mist and fog. He was lying on the ground. Had he been
hallucinating? Had it all been a dream?
Then,to his horror,when he looked down upon his body he saw the giant poppies had entangled his legs in their huge stems and shoots, with their long sharp thorns clawing at him and their roots feeding upon the gashes made by the thorns.
Horizon struggled. Pushing himself upright and with all his might (for he had half the strength of a giant and thus twice that of an ordinary man) he tore the poppies green manacles from around him and staggered to his feet.
Obviously the poppies were some sort of Vampire that had seduced him with their scent and made him hallucinate.
Now, running, he tried to find his way from the field but the mist and fog that had crept around him was too dense and he found himself tripping and stumbling several times as the monsterous poppies tried to wrap their giant stems around his legs.
Luckily, Volvan,the loyal horse given to him
by a grateful Queen Coralynne,was there and so,
clambering hurriedly upon it’s back he ordered
the magical beast to change itself into a bird,
which it had the power to do, and it changed
in form so that it became like a gigantic,horse- sized eagle and when Horizon gripped its reigns and tugged upon them it flapped it’s huge wings and flew,high above the fog and mist, westward over the field.
“Don’t stop. Don’t stop, my noble and wonderful steed”, Said Horizon, “Until you see the lights
of a village or town”.