Aidan swore he was dreaming. There was nothing that could explain the bizarreness of this place. It was a meadow of strange yet beautiful wildflowers of many different colours, tall twisted trees with really dark-coloured barks, and around him, rectangular mirrors about two metres tall formed a perfect circle. The sky was pinkish, with a little proliferation of clouds here and there. The sun was right smack in the middle, indicating that it was noon, but it was not as warm as it should have been. Aidan would have found the whole situation to be odd, if not for the fact that he seemed to have recognised this somewhere. His mind, though, would not cooperate with him regarding this matter. He stood there, watching the whole thing alone. The entire meadow was silent except for…
Except for those galloping sounds he heard from his behind. Aidan turned around and his face turned paper white. His blood rushed to the heart like speedy cars on the German autobahns. A wall of horses, as fast as a bullet train, as loud as the crackling thunder, was moving towards him. He half-expected those horses to stomp him to pieces. But then again this was a dream. He wouldn’t die, would he? What if he died in real life as the result of dying in his dream? The galloping sounds grew louder and louder and the horses got closer and closer. Aidan did not know what to do. His feet were cemented to the ground. He willed himself to walk, but not a single part of his legs followed the order. The horses all gravitated towards him, an unstoppable earth-hued wave. One… two… three… Aidan could only manage to close his eyes. Well, any minute now…
The sound stopped so suddenly. Aidan’s legs were shaking like trees in the tornado, but he still remained steadfast to the ground. His ears had not tricked him. No more sounds, but for a soft licking sound. Aidan opened his eyes slowly. What he saw took his breath away. A single stallion remained in front of him. Aidan was dumbfounded. No other horses were in sight, save for this one. The stallion was regal, so Aidan thought. His mane was long and silk-like. The coat was glistening copper. The horse was tall, even taller than him. Aidan then realised something else about the stallion: a single tusk on its head. It looked like a shiny black narwhal tusk, with a razor-sharp tip. Again, just like the scenery, Aidan seemed to recognise the horse.
“You can’t be a unicorn.” Aidan said, his voice small. The stallion moved closer to him. He nuzzled Aidan’s nose. “You’re not afraid of me?” Aidan asked. The horse appeared to understand Aidan’s question. It kept motioning to its body, as if to urge Aidan to ride on his back.
“I have no idea how to get on you.” Aidan admitted. He had never ridden a horse before. He was a city boy, and anyway he couldn’t just go to a horse track to ride one. The horse pushed Aidan’s head to the left. Aidan saw a boulder and immediately he realised what to do. “You want me to use that boulder to get onto you?” Aidan asked. The horse waggled its head up and down. Aidan walked while the stallion trotted to the boulder, in which after a few attempt (including one embarrassing fall to the mossy ground), Aidan finally managed to mount the horse.
“I supposed we could ride slowly now.” Aidan said. The stallion however made a neigh that sounded like a laugh. The horse kicked his hoof on the ground, and after another neigh or two (which didn’t sound good at all inside Aidan’s head), it abruptly gallop without a warning like a lightning bolt, making Aidan to scream as he had never done it before, while holding on to the stallion’s slender neck. Wind of hurricane-like intensity smashed his face. The scenery, that was visibly solid seconds ago, turned blurry. The most amazing thing happened a few seconds after that.
Like flowers growing from the Earth, horses started emerging from the ground and surrounded the regal stallion. They were smaller than the stallion, but they travelled with the same speed, muscles all ripped and buzzing with wild energy. It was the most beautiful sight that Aidan has ever witness in his life, or so he thought until he twirled his head to the front and saw a looming mountain up ahead. Aidan could perceive its grey rocky surface, dark crevices, and on its top, a pure white ice cap. How high was that mountain, Aidan wondered. It was breathtaking indeed, but there was one thing about the mountain that bothered Aidan. Just like the meadow and the stallion, the mountain was recognisable. It was engrained in his brain somewhere. Aidan was pretty sure of that, but now he did not remember where or when he first saw that mountain.
The horses all sprinted with astonishing speed, covering the distance between the meadow to the mountain in a swift pace. Aidan started to wonder if that mountain was their destination. Aidan himself was, for some reasons unknown, attracted to it. He felt as if his name was being summoned by the mountain, which was odd seeing that mountain was not breathing, living creature. A mountain was just a landmark, a piece of rock jutting out from the ground.
“Uhhhh… where are we going?” Aidan asked awkwardly. He was talking to a horse. Everyone would feel awkward doing that. The stallion answered the question with a nicker… and with lights coming out of its front legs, which then enveloped the whole body slowly. Aidan’s eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. The front legs shorten and rapidly, dark feathers with golden tips formed one by one and finally fused into two ethereal wings, larger and longer than the wings of an albatross. The whole body of the horse started to become wider and the stallion’s head seemed to retract, but the mouth turned pointy. The hind legs shortened and became claws. Aidan couldn’t form any words to describe the utterly abnormal nature of the situation, but moments later he understood one thing.
“Eagle? We are not going to… arghhhhhh!” again, Aidan screamed loudly, filling the valley below with his ear-splitting voice. Everything on the ground started to appear small, trees, rivers, rocks, everything. They were soaring above the air. Aidan was flying, for the first time in his life. This time, the eagle was not as fast as it was on the ground, but Aidan was totally cool with that. The other horses also turned into eagles. Their wings cut against the air, creating whooshing sounds. Together, the eagles filled the air with a chorus of screeches. Cool air brushed Aidan’s face. Bravely, he glanced below. The land was like an atlas he used to peruse with his one best friend. Aidan’s lips curved into a smile. If only his best friend could see this. He had never felt this way for a long time. He felt exhilarating. He felt joyful. He felt… he felt free. Freedom, one word that lost its meaning for Aidan, but the word was coming back to him slowly and slowly now, and somehow, he was fearful about it.
The regal eagle that Aidan rode finally made a swift turn to the right. Aidan realised that they were about to land on the ice cap. Aidan braced for the impact, but the eagle and its companions all landed softly on the snow. Only one bird managed to land quite badly, slamming face (or perhaps beak?) first into the ground with a hard thud, but it was alright nonetheless. The snow cushioned the collision. Aidan laughed seeing that. As much as everything was weird, a funny thing was still a funny thing. After that he immediately stopped laughing. Did I just laugh, Aidan thought. His thought was cut short as the coldness of the place started to seep into Aidan’s core. There was nothing around him, except white powdery snow. He was on the top of the mountain. Surprisingly, the air wasn’t thin. Aidan still breathed normally.
“Well, where are we?” he asked the eagle. It didn’t answer. Instead the eagle he rode began to squawk and then it shone again, this time with an even more blinding light. Aidan was flabbergasted and stumbled backward, covering his eyes with his hands. A few moments passed and Aidan heard his name being called a few times, slowly at first, but then…
“AIDAN HENLEY JOHNSTON, YOU TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT ME!!!!!”
Aidan could not believe his ears. He recognised that voice, but it couldn’t be the truth. He was frightened, because that voice should not be heard anymore. He was frightened, because he loved that voice. Aidan picked up his courage to turn his face to the direction of the voice. When he did, he got the greatest surprise of his existence.
“No… it can’t be…” Aidan struggled. “Fa… Faolan?”