Shakti travels as Vivian.
Five days ago we arrived at the Luna Estuary. Corwin had told me that what I called “Elvenwood”, or “Land of the Elves” was in fact two pieces of land separated by the Luna Estuary. “Elvenwood” is only one part of the land of the Elves, the proper name being Elvenland, that is, the land beyond the Luna Estuary, a fact which I did not know.
I´ll show you on the map.
…We arrived at the Luna Estuary five days ago, made camp, and waited for I don´t know which signal to go forward. The Estuary is like a very large and elongated lake formed by a river coming down from the Evendun Hills, that flows through the Estuary towards the Great Western Sea.
The weather was cold but sunny, and the days have passed cooking bizarre but tasty Elven food, telling stories and Elven jokes, (of which I didn´t get much except feeling rather foolish to see Corwin and the two Elves holding their ribs, obviously tickled pink), playing harmonica at night (three Elven harmonicas in the starry night, you really have to hear it!…)some Elven archery, and Ninraen giving me lessons of Elven horse riding.
The Elves ride without a metal bit, indicating to the horse what they want them to do with body movement and leg work. She showed me how to do that while she was on her own mare. Oh, sorry. Riding with her mare, as Master Orod had told me about dragons.
My whole relationship to horses is changing. I no longer see them as beasts of burden or merely animals. I feel them as living souls embodied in an animal body, who want to be with us humans (or Elves), who are our natural companions and soul-friends.
The first day Ninraen showed me how to give Nim an Elven massage with a hard brush. Nim turned her head around and I swear I saw her smile! I brushed her down very slowly, very carefully, never looking her in the eye, holding one hand, still and warm, on her body to tell her that I was present to her, the other brushing down her big boned body tenderly.
I am used to having horses around of course, but this was …different.
Ninraen told me to do it closing my eyes, and feeling the horse inside me, instead of doing it matter-of-factly, as I was used to do.
Then Ninraen told me how to put on an Elven saddle, then a small halter over Nim´s head, and that was it. No bit, no whip, no metal, no violence, no domination.
She has to accept you before you ride with her, Ninraen told me. She has to give her permission. And how do I get that, I asked. Oh you will get it soon enough. If you do it the Elven way, Nimrodel will tell you herself if she´s ready or not to ride with you.
And how will she do that, I asked.
Ninraen only smiled and told me with a gesture to go on, to go up into the saddle.
I put my left foot on a stirrup, and Nimrodel took two steps forward. I had to hurry down with my foot. Then she just walked away serenely, and started to graze on the juicy grass near the water.
I looked over at Ninraen, who laughed openly.
See? The Elven way with horses is very different from the human way…
I shook my head. How can you ride a horse that way? Do you have to ask permission every single time? I asked the Elf.
Of course, every single time. She smiled. That is the Elven way.
I had to hide an urge to utter some profanity.
Ninraen, isn´t that a great loss of time and energy? Horses are only animals…
Ninraen´s face became serious.
So are you, she said.
That´s when I had the “Aha” moment of understanding the situation. I looked at Nimrodel, who wasn´t concerned at all. She is such a beautiful beast… I walked over, and caressing her mane whispered, I am sorry, Nim, I will have to change my ways. I understand that now.
She turned her head towards me, and I could feel her laughing. Not a human laughter, of course, a horsey “heeeee” that told me she understood, and accepted.
When I turned away from her, she followed me. From the corner of my eye I could see her walking steadily behind me, the great beast following the tiny human.
Ninraen stood, arms crossed, very tall and regal in her leather outfit, and shining like a sun.
See, she said. She has accepted you. Now you can ride with her.
And that we did, Ninraen with her brown mare, me with mine, hair in the wind, without stirrups, just guiding Nim with the muscles of my thighs, never tightening the reins, never forcing Nim who, I understood it now, is an intelligent soul-filled being.