Once Upon a Time, there was a kingdom far, far, away. The Kingdom was ruled by the Aricotle family, and the people there were happy, healthy, and prosperous. Until...
The people of Aides lived in poverty and strife. They were a ruthless people, always in conflict, always trying to inflict on others the fate they, themselves, had. One day, Monjo, the ruler of the Aides, set his sights on Elysium. They had it perfect there, why can't the Aides people have the same?
So the people of Aides invaded the peaceful land of Elysium. The people of Elysium were not used to war, and the kingdom fell swiftly. To control the concurred people, Monjo had the royal family executed in front of the entire kingdom. He thought he had them all until he learned about Allia.
Allia Aricotle, holding her breath, hid in the bushes of the forest while the soldiers marched past. Once they were gone, she heaved a sigh of relief and crept out of the brush. She had heard of a wizard named Quacon who could help her. She was on her way to his cottage now. Staying low and off the well-traveled roads, Princess Allia searched for the signs she had been told. Pulling the old, tattered cloak over her head, she pressed on.
The cottage was old and falling apart. Uncertain why a powerful wizard would live in such a broken-down place made Allia hesitate. Was this the right place? She paused. Suddenly, the door opened and an elderly man stood in the doorway. “Please enter, Princess Allia,” the old man said as he stepped aside to let her pass.
“Hush,” she cautioned, “that name could get us both killed.” Allia entered the cottage. It was warm and inviting and very neat and tidy. Allia looked around, wondering if she had walked into a trap. The old man motioned for her to sit down at the table.
“My deepest apologies,” the old man said. “I should be more careful. Would you care for something to eat? I imagine you must be hungry.”
A low rumbling came from Allia's stomach at the thought of food. She nodded gratefully. “Yes, please. It has been many days since I last ate.”
“Very well then. I have some venison roasting on the pit now. I think it will be ready shortly. In the meantime, may I offer you some wine and bread? Or perhaps an apple?” The man placed all three items onto the table near the young woman. She reached out and took the apple.
“Thank you, you are very kind,” she said before taking a bite. The apple was sweet and crisp, and juicy. Allia didn't know when an apple ever tasted so good to her. She quietly ate it, enjoying every bite. When she was done, she looked at the man, suddenly aware that he was still there.
“I am sorry,” she said, “I was caught up in the experience of the apple. I did not mean to ignore you.”
The old man smiled. “It is quite alright. It gave me some time to get the meat off the fire.” He pointed to the plate he had set before the woman. “Please, eat.”
Eagerly Allia picked up the utensils on the table and began eating the venison. It also tasted wonderful and Allia found herself savoring every bite. She ate it slowly, carefully. She glanced over at the older man and was pleased he was also eating. He noticed her gaze, picked up his glass of wine, and toasted her. She picked up her glass and toasted him back, then took a sip. The wine was wonderful too. Allia restrained herself from gulping it down, still aware that her life was in danger and not wanting to make herself any more vulnerable.
When the meal was finished, Allia helped the old man clean up the dishes from the table. He told her to put them in a tub, then motioned for her to go into another room. In this room were large, comfortable chairs. He told her to sit down. Then, looking into her eyes, he said, “Please tell me, my dear, why you seek to talk to Quacon, the Wizard.”
Allia was a little taken aback. “Oh my,” she said, “Who did I just dine with and who am I speaking to?”
The older man laughed. “I am the wizard, Quacon,” he said reassuringly. “Forgive me for not introducing myself when I know who you are.”
Allia smiled. The wizard noted how beautiful her smile was and his heart was saddened by the tragic events under which he met the princess. Then her face saddened.
The princess took in a deep breath. “You are aware of the events going on in this Kingdom, correct?” The wizard nodded. “And you are aware that my life is in mortal danger?” Again, the wizard nodded. “Is it true that you know of a means of getting me off of this world safely?”
Quacon nodded, then reached out and took the woman's hands. They were soft, uncalloused. “I am able to get you off of this world onto another. Such things cannot happen without some kind of sacrifice. Are you prepared to pay the price?”
Fear and pain came into the woman's eyes. “I have sacrificed much already,” she said quietly. “What price does this miracle require?”
“You must give up something of great value in order to escape this world you now live in. You are required to give up your humanity.”
Allia pulled back from the Wizard. “What does that mean?” she asked, her heart sinking. “Does this mean I will no longer be myself?”
Quacon stood up and walked over to a shelf. Removing a book, he searched through it and found an image. He walked over to the princess and showed her the picture. “This, my dear, is a horse. On the world I will be sending you to, these creatures are valued and admired. They can also be beasts of burden and often times are mistreated. I can control many things regarding where you end up, but I can not control how you will be treated. Are you willing to give up being a person and become a horse?”
The princess leaned forward and looked at the image in the book. The older man handed the book to her so that she could look at it more closely. Allia looked carefully at the horse. She had never seen one before because they do not dwell in her world. The creature she saw was 4 legged, and had long hair on its head and as a tail, and was covered in what appeared to be sleek fur. This creature was brown with black hair, and its legs had black from the feet up to its knees. The animal stood proud, its head held high and its ears pricked forward, in an alert state. The head itself was delicate, graceful. Allia looked at it a long time, considering if this was something she was willing to become.
“It is late, my dear, and you look exhausted. I have a room and a bed in which you can spend the night. Think it over during the night and tell me what you decide in the morning. You will be safe here. No one finds this cottage unless I want them to find it.”
“May I take this book with me so I can look at the animal some more?” she asked. Quacon considered it for a moment. Then shook his head.
“No, my dear, there are spells in that book I do not want you to even read for fear you might cause something catastrophic to happen. Take one more last look at the image, and then I will show you to the room.”
Allia looked at the horse again. Its neck was long and graceful, its legs thin, yet muscular, its back long and lean. She considered it and decided the animal was a thing of beauty and she imagined it moved gracefully. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad life. Allia handed the book back to the wizard, then followed him to the room in which she would spend the night.
Morning came quickly and the princess woke up feeling refreshed. It was the first night in weeks where she felt safe enough to fall into a deep sleep.
The smell of eggs cooking brought Allia out of the room into the kitchen. Quacon had placed food on the table for her including some fruit.
“Good morning!” the wizard said when he saw her.
“Good morning,” she replied. Quacon motioned for the woman to sit down at the table and eat. Allia ate the fruit first. She enjoyed every bite. The wizard then served her some eggs sunny side up, and some sausages. Allia ate those eagerly also.
Once the princess had finished her meal, she turned to her host. “Thank you for your kind hospitality,” she said. “I slept better last night than I had since this horrible war started.”
“You are welcome, my dear,” the wizard bowed to the princess. When he looked up, he saw her face had become rather serious.
“I have made my decision,” she said. Her voice was resolute. “I have decided to pay the price required in order for me to escape this world. Please, send me to this other place as a horse.”
“As you wish.” Quacon put the dirty dishes into the tub near the fire and went into the study. He picked up the book, then returned to the kitchen. “We should do this as soon as possible,” he said. “Is there anything you would like to do before you leave this world?”
Allia shook her head. “There is no one left here for me to say goodbye. All of my possessions have been taken as spoils of war. There is nothing left here for me. I am ready.”
Quacon nodded. “Then follow me into my lab and we will get started.” Quacon tapped his toe three times on the floor and a trap door opened up. A set of stairs led down into the ground. It was well lit by torches. Allia took a deep breath then followed the man into the depths.
The wizard motioned to Allia to sit down on a wooden chair in the middle of the lab. She sat down and watched as the man placed the book onto a lectern and then began gathering items from around the lab. Some of them he put into a pot, others he sprinkled around Allia and even on the book. Finally, he was ready.
Quacon turned to Allia. “Are you ready, my dear?” he asked. She nodded. “I will ask you some questions, please answer them in a loud voice. Say nothing but the answers. If you have questions, please ask them now before we do this final part.”
“I want to know if my new body will have the mind I now have, as well as my memories. Will I be myself or someone else entirely?”
The Wizard looked at the young woman. “You will have your current mind, as well as your memories, both good and bad. You will also have all of the emotions that come from those memories. In essence, you will be yourself encased in the body of a horse.
“Do you have any further questions, Your Majesty?”
Allia looked at the Wizard. Her eyes were wide with wonder, but they were calm. “I have no further questions, great Wizard. I am ready.”
Quacon straightened up, held his hands into the air, and said in a loud, commanding voice, “Powers of Land and Sea, Air and Fire, we seek your help. This woman wishes to be removed from this realm and moved to a safe place far from your observation. She wishes to go to Earth, the land watched over by the One True God. Can you help?” The ground shook, the lights flickered, and a warm breeze came through the room. Allia was startled but kept her seat.
“Allia Aricotle, Princess of Elysium and the last surviving member of the Royal Family, do you agree to swap your title, name, and form of this world for that of a humble horse of the world known as Earth?”
“I do,” Allia said, using her loud, authoritative voice. The wizard nodded. “Do you freely relinquish your form without hesitation?”
“I do,” the girl replied.
“Then, let it be as so stated.” Quacon waved his hands, throwing them down towards the ground, and Allia was enveloped in a thick fog.
When the fog cleared, Allia found herself standing in the middle of a grassy field. She looked down and saw her feet had turned into hard hooves, and her legs felt strong. She tossed her head and felt her mane flowing in the air. She breathed in deeply, then neighed loudly. The sound was musical in her ears. She started to prance around, enjoying the feeling of movement. Then she looked around her and started towards a stream she saw in a distance. At first, she walked, then moved into a trot, that got faster until she was in a canter. The freedom she felt in the canter and the speed at which she traveled made Allia push herself into a full-out gallop. Just the action of galloping gave Allia great joy. She ran up to the stream at full gallop, gathered her back legs, and leaped over the water. As her back legs hit the ground, Allia whirled and headed out into an open field.
A young woman was standing at a gate, her eyes searching the horizon. In her hands were a halter and a couple of carrots. When she couldn't see the object she was searching for, she called out as loud as she could. “Allia! Allia!” Soon she saw the bay Arabian mare running at full gallop towards her. It came to a sliding halt just in front of her and tossed its head. “Easy, girl,” the young woman said as she reached up and stroked the mare's neck. She then gave the horse the end of the carrot, and the horse bit off a part of it and chewed it while the woman placed the halter over the mare's head. The horse pushed against the girl with her head, eager to get on with whatever adventure the woman had in store for the two.