Rising Fire: A Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron Fanfiction-- Chapter One
by Allie Lynn
Read the first part of this story, prologue here.
Natalie Grant pulled down the brim of her hat as she clucked to Tabasco, urging him forward towards the cattle. The sight and sound excited the horse, and he shot towards a brindle calf who’d broken away from the herd, rounding the frisky baby back to his mother.
She looked around the woods, searching through the shadows in case Rising-Fire decided to show up again. During the lazy days of summer, he sometimes followed them while they were out herding cattle. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pangs in her heart that always came when she thought about Rising-Fire. It had been five summers—five summers since she had become an orphan. In that time, she had followed Rising-Fire through his colthood and watched as he grew from a gangly foal to a strong, willful stallion and had gained a herd.
She herself had a whole new life now.
Her adoptive mother, Ellie Grant, steered her dark gray draft-cross Checkers closer to Natalie. “You and Tabasco are getting along pretty well,” she said.
Natalie smiled and rubbed the chestnut’s neck. “Pa picked out a good one.”
The title for father sounded so strange. It wasn’t that she was uncomfortable—the Grants were like family to her, and she considered them her second parents. It was just such a foreign word to her. Ellie Grant—Ma— would have been an honored medicine woman in the tribe. She knew herbs well, and used them to treat the cattle and horses instead of what she called “chemical medicine”. She rode like the women from Natalie’s old tribe too—astride, wearing the clothing known as pants that were frowned upon for women and girls. Natalie was allowed to wear them as well. Ellie was white, of course, but years of working under the sun had tanned her skin almost as dark as Natalie’s.
If it weren’t for those kindly blue eyes, she and Ma could be twins.
Checkers jerked his head up and nickered, staring towards the woods. They had come up to the part where she had always seen Rising-Fire, even for a short time. But there was no sign of the buckskin.
“That stallion is as elusive as the wind,” Arthur Grant chuckled from his place in the front. “I’m surprised you can ever get as close as you do.”
Natalie wrapped her fingers around the reins, feeling a little sorrowful that the stallion hadn’t come. She couldn’t really blame him. Rising-Fire never knew what to make of cattle.
“I’ve got to go ride drag,” Ma chuckled. “Let's hope I don’t eat too much dust.”
Natalie tried to smile, but they had broken into the valley near the town, and now a sense of dread was rising in her stomach.
Miradero wasn’t necessarily a bad town. It was clean and neat, and fairly small, but well-kept. But she always stood out so much. There was only one girl with skin darker than hers. But at least she was accepted. An Indian was always a cause for suspicion.
She caught a flash of black as her adoptive older brother, Ethan, steered his gelding Nightshade closer to her. He gave her a comforting smile, and some of her nerves relaxed. Ethan was quiet, but he always had her back—even when it got him in trouble.
The cattle were being herded towards the railcars, where they would be paid for in their worth as meat. She always felt bad for the steers and breeding cows at the end of their career—they never complained and gave their all, and this was their thanks. But she knew that Ma and Pa had made sure to give them the best life possible, and they took part in the tradition that she had introduced from her tribe, thanking them for their sacrifice.
But now she had a new perspective on that tradition. A very different perspective. Once she had thought that the Spirits provided food and you had to give them many gifts to keep them happy. Then the Grants told her about Jesus. A God-Man, who didn’t require gifts to be happy. Who had sacrificed himself for her. She knew very well about sacrifice.
They had come into town. The Grants had been into town enough times that they no longer ridiculed Natalie. But she could see the stares from the kids. She pulled her hat down again, shading her eyes. A calf darted out of line, and Tabasco did his job. She felt better after it, rubbing Tabasco’s neck.
“Looks like there’s some kind of circus going on,” Pa remarked, looking toward the arena. Gray and silver horses pranced in an elegant dance, while the announcer made remarks about performances.
She realized how close they were to the railway and shuddered. She hated the trains—the sound and the steam always brought back memories of the soldier’s attack.
Ethan gave her a sympathetic look. “Why don’t you go see if your friend… what’s her name, the one with that shiny palomino?”
“Pru?” Natalie brushed back a piece of stray hair. “I’m not sure you could call us friends…”
“Hey, you two gentled that colt together. You get along well, like similar things. We can handle it here. And it's far away from the train,” Ethan said.
She glanced over to Ma. She nodded. “It’s all right, Natalie.”
She smiled. “Thank you.” She turned Tabasco towards the path that took her to the Granger farm.
Pru was the only girl in town with darker skin than Natalie. She was good with horses, and once, she had asked Natalie’s opinion about taming a wild colt. It had ended up with Natalie using her tribe’s techniques, and the colt bringing a high price at auction. She and Pru had talked every time Natalie came into Miradero.
Pru was now scrubbing out the water trough, her thick, dark hair pulled into a braid. She caught sight of Natalie and flashed a smile. “Hi Nat! It’s shipping day again?”
“Apparently so.” Natalie dismounted Tabasco and led him over to the fence. “What’s with the circus in town?”
“It’s not a circus. It’s trick riding. And if you had been here a few hours earlier, you could have seen me and Chica Linda pulling off some great reining moves.” She brushed back her sweaty hair.
“I’m sure you were—” Natalie jerked her head up as a horse’s scream echoed from the barn. Pru went rigid.
That scream sounded like—Natalie blinked. “Who’s in there?”
“Some horse breakers came in today with a mustang and offered my dad a fistful of money to board the horse here,” Pru shook her head. “Took five guys just to get the horse in there. Should have left him in the round pen.” She scrubbed the trough harder.
There was a load of banging and shouting, and another all too familiar scream. Wood splintered as two men shoved the doors open, and a man hanging on for dear life rode a buckskin horse into the arena. Her heart fell to her feet when she saw that the horse was none other than Rising-Fire himself.
About the author
Allie Lynn is an equine fiction writer who desires to glorify her Savior and spread His good news with her writing. When she isn't writing about daredevil girls on horseback or warriors fighting the powers of darkness, she's reading or running around her Midwest USA farm. You can find more of her work at Equineonthemind.com.