“Eli,” Lia said to the horse, “the hawk actually came.
You don’t believe me, do you”
Lia put down a bucket full of clean water in front of Eli and wiped the sweat off her face.
As she did, Eli chewed and glanced at her without true interest.
Eli, older than the other horses, was assigned to a stable away from them.
Upon her arrival, Eli looked quite happy to see her.
Lia sat beside him, who continued to flap his ears and eat, not really listening to her at all.
“It said, ‘my Canillia.’ I thought perhaps my mom had sent the hawk to me.
So, I’ve been looking around to see who raises hawks, but you definitely don’t know, right”
She realized that she looked quite silly talking to a horse.
So, she quickly got up and started brushing Eli.
She also felt a bit embarrassed to converse with an animal, even though Eli was in a private stable.
Eli put his head closer to her as if to say he liked being brushed.
In rubbing his face against her body he showed her affection.
At first she found it scary, but now Lia reciprocates by grabbing his neck and rubbing her face against his.
“Your master will soon come back.
So, let us both hang on a little while longer.
Let’s go home.”
Does he understand the word home
Eli lifted the head to its full height.
A burst of energy and excitement overtook his usual laziness.
She had been taking care of Eli almost every day for three years, but she never felt like she was his owner.
No, she was his friend.
Lia patted him on the side of his neck and refilled his feed bag.
But, Eli simply looked deeply into her eyes with his.
“Do you want to go out”
Eli whinnied and hit the floor with his anxious hooves.
Do you feel trapped”
Eli whinnied again.
Eli’s hooves moved anxiously as Lia saddled him up.
His anticipation peaked as she put on her jacket.
“Let’s go out for a bit.
But you shouldn’t be running so much.
Okay I’m different from your owner.
I’m scared of you running too fast.”
Her hands trembled inside her leather gloves.
Although not the first time she took Eli out, this was the first time taking him out without help.
Eli shoved his head into her as she hesitated.
She chose not to ponder any more.
She untied him and mounted him—the best horse in the Empire and the horse of the Duke Maximillian.
Lia wrapped her hands around the reins lightly and lightly kicked him on the side.
Eli glanced back at her and slowly walked out of the stable.
The valets saw Lia on the horse and yelled in surprise.
“I’ll be right back!”
“Sir! It’s dangerous!”
Lia waved her hands at them and urged Eli to move forward.
Eli, facing the field, broke into a run.
Her blonde hair shook loose and bounced behind her.
Eli joyfully ran through the field of snow, seemingly becoming one with it.
Although the harsh winter wind scratched her face, the day couldn’t have been any nicer.
The master of the Duke’s family was the only one who could control Eli.
Everyone else had trouble getting close to him, which is really why Eli was separated from the other horses.
Eli was the Duke himself, in a manner of speaking.
A horse with a title required a handler with a title.
Despite Eli’s joyful gallop, the small Canillia showed no fear of danger.
In fact, she couldn’t hold back her laughter as she held the reins.
Should’ve come out earlier.
Eli accepted her lead, passing through the field adjacent to the Palace and going on the street.
Passersby paid attention to the regal white horse.
How could they not Had an artist captured Eli running alongside the Leon River, it would have made a dashing painting.
“Whoa, whoa, Eli!”
Lia stopped Eli on the other side of the Leon Bridge—at the entrance to Louvre.
Her breathing was heavy as if she had run alongside him.
She felt great despite a slight leg cramp.
But her joy was short-lived.
Along the icy, snowy road to Louvre came the carriage of an undertaker, piled high with corpses.
The Louvre of her childhood was shivering and collapsing.
“Why did you come all the way here, Eli”
Eli faced Louvre with confidence.
His light breath showed in the cold air.
Her heart was beating fast.
“You shouldn’t go in here.”
She kept on insisting and Eli finally moved.
Before Lia left, she turned to look at the undertaker’s carriage again.
Before Lia’s eyes, a scene of great sadness played out.
The undertakers covered a female body with a sheet followed by a straw mat.
The woman’s dark brown hair and arm peeked out, as a small child and a man—obviously this woman’s family—looked on in disbelief and grief.
Lia’s heart sank.
Lia held Eli’s reins tightly in spite of herself.
Then, in a sad whisper she said to Eli, “Let’s go.”