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“As the sun’s last rays died away, a new light swelled to counter the darkness. Phyona and Mikkylc hushed their mutters and lifted their eyes to behold the rippling blue muscles and glowing golden wings of Nalfenelg.

“Ambassadors,” he rumbled in welcome. “The journey grows harsher.”

“Every year,” breathed the gentle Phyona in agreement.

“But so necessary,” Mikkylc chimed in.

“Yes,” said Nalfenelg. “There is much to discuss. These humans . . .”

“Peace,” Phyona said, raising a slick teal hand, as if to ward off any rage that might have been excreted into the air.

“Peace?” Mikkylc repeated dubiously, blinking his little black eyes at her.

“I think not,” Nalfenelg snorted. “That was attempted, on more than one occasion, in the name of Hope, but I believe we can all agree that it was futile each time.”

“Please,” Phyona begged, gazing up at him mournfully. “There can be change. They can change.”

“Against their will?” scoffed Mikkylc.

“Would you prefer hostility?” Phyona hissed.

“Nonsense!” he retorted, bobbing in the air, agitated. “However, what is the point of possessing might, when it is never used.”

“We are mighty for the weak,” Nalfenelg reminded him.

“Are we not protecting them?” Mikkylc inquired, tilting his head to look up at the larger horse.

Nalfenelg bent his neck, seemingly to observe the pulsing light caused by his feet in the water. Phyona and Mikklyc cast disgruntled looks at each other, awaiting his reply. At last the great dignitary roused himself and murmured, “Perhaps we are, at that.”

“No,” whispered Phyona, her shoulders scrunching in fear.

– Emily Kinney

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