The End of Cavalry

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3) was named to the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch and listed as a Highlighted Title by the Independent Book Publishers Associate (IBPA).

In this excerpt, Meagan finds herself on a World War II battlefield during an attack…

Thou shalt be favored above all other creatures, for to thee shall accrue the love of the master of the earth.

—attributed to the Koran

The ground twisted and heaved. A swath of sand lifted and fell to earth in the near distance. Curtains of spray rose in lines from the earth. Aircraft seared the sky, flying low with black trails following, like the rising dust of other marauders from long ago.

Into the Dark (bookcover) WWII cavalry horseIn all directions Meagan saw multicolored forms, misshapen and sprawled, but her eyes would not focus, could not comprehend the thousand squirming remains of a massacre. Shapes of animals—both man and horse—lay crushed and struggling, or else staggered blindly across acres of death.

Screaming came from the sky and Meagan instinctively ducked lower as mechanical whines grew and planes dived, releasing packages to detonate in flashes and thunder around her. On the horizon, a line of gray tanks dipped and bobbed over uneven ground as they came. Her thoughts flashed to another battlefield, another time … the chariots were coming

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The Great Horse, Rafi

The Great Horse, Rafi “Meagan found herself growing angry; no one seemed to know how to care for the animal properly. She wanted to brush the horse’s unkempt coat, to oil his cracked hooves. Her eyes fell to a plaque. It was a metal sign with raised letters, fixed to a podium before the plexiglass stage…” – Into the Dark (excerpt)

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) was honored as a Bookwatch Selection for Young Adult Fantasy.

In this excerpt, Meagan has stumbled into a strange, horseless world …

“God forbid I should go to a Heaven where there are no horses.”

—R.B. Cunningham-Graham (1852-1936)
‘Rafi’ from Into the Dark by John Royce - Artwork by Marti Adrian | (c) 2012 Micron Press

Meagan ignored the speech around her as she moved through the audience. She could see the top of a clear plexiglass wall above the heads of the crowd, but it wasn’t until moving closer that she saw it encircled a platform of artificial turf—upon which stood a living horse.

“Look!” hooted a spectator. “How would you like to clean up after that, honey?”

“I want to pet it!”

“No dear. It’s cruel to them.”

The manure had not been cleaned from underneath the horse, and there were no water buckets or haynets visible. The animal’s smooth gray coat had lumps of scurf from poor grooming and his halter was fitted too tight. Meagan recognized the horse’s Arabian breed by the dished profile of his diamond head and the long tail which draped from his level croup. The animal’s muzzle narrowed to a mouth that could almost “fit in a teacup.” Dark, expressive eyes turned their faraway gaze to Meagan. The Great Horse, Rafi.

The gray stallion was held between handlers in upbeat yellow shirts, standing before a small crowd of helpers wearing matching green Animal Hero t-shirts. Meagan found herself growing angry; no one seemed to know how to care for the animal properly. She wanted to brush the horse’s unkempt coat, to oil his cracked hooves.

Her eyes fell to a plaque. It was a metal sign with raised letters, fixed to a podium before the plexiglass stage…

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“To Fly without Wings”

Into the Dark - bookcover image of Stroller “The stadium erupted in cheers when the pony trotted out before the crowd. Programs fluttered onto the arena floor as the crowd’s appreciation drowned the loudspeakers’ sound. The pony looked around the filled stadium, seeming not to understand what all the fuss was about.” – Into the Dark (excerpt) Book #3 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) was honored as a Bookwatch Selection for Young Adult Fantasy.

In this excerpt, Meagan is coming close to her time … and finds herself at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

When God created the horse,
He said to His new creation:
“Oh, Horse, I have made thee as no other.
Thou shalt fly without wings
and conquer without swords.”

—attributed to the Koran

Into the Dark - bookcover image of StrollerExcitement rippled through the in-gate. Every head was turned to the entry corridor, watching a young woman in a black hunt cap. Her small, pale face could barely be seen over the spectators. As she glided forward, her horse’s tiny dark ears became visible. Meagan, standing beside the in-gate, saw the girl was not riding a horse at all, but a pony. The saddle pad bore the flag of Great Britain. These were the Individual Show Jumping medalists.

“De Gran Bretaña, Marion Coakes y—Stroller!”

Meagan knew of this pony, a famous jumper of the twentieth century. He was Marion Coakes’ childhood mount, a pony talented enough to outjump every full-sized horse in the world on one occasion or another. Something else Meagan remembered: Stroller’s tail had been in constant danger of being plucked bare by souvenir seekers …

There was doubt the brave pony could handle the huge fences, but Marion and Stroller were simply too popular with the public to leave off the Jumping team for Great Britain.

Proving doubts wrong, the pair had won the Silver medal, putting in one of only two clean rounds of the entire competition. This insured a spot in the British line-up for the final event of the 1968 Games now in progress: the Team Jumping.

The stadium erupted in cheers when the pony trotted out before the crowd. Programs fluttered onto the arena floor as the crowd’s appreciation drowned the loudspeakers’ sound. The pony looked around the filled stadium, seeming not to understand what all the fuss was about.

Perhaps his eye stopped on Meagan before he walked on … perhaps it was only her imagination. Not since her Mongolian mount Targa had she known a Great Pony. “Good luck,” she whispered.

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Book III: A Tunnel of Wind

“About the head of a truly great horse
there is an air of freedom unconquerable.
The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze.
It is the look of a spirit that can soar …
It is the birthright of eagles.”

—John T. Foote (1881-1950)

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3) was named to the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch and listed as a Highlighted Title by the Independent Book Publishers Associate (IBPA).

In this excerpt, the year is 1920 and the Great Horse is a fleet hero of the American racetrack…

“About the head of a truly great horse
there is an air of freedom unconquerable.
The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze.
It is the look of a spirit that can soar …
It is the birthright of eagles.”

—John T. Foote (1881-1950)

Her first time riding a Thoroughbred had been a little frightening. The horse stood prancing and eager as she took the reins and tried not to look at the ground so far away. She remembered hinting to the horse that she was ready and the sudden jolt forward in response.

She was riding quicksilver; such a steed demanded her utmost skill and focus. She had to balance and reassure the animal; she had to both follow and lead. She had to remind herself to breathe.

Only once did she truly gallop on a Thoroughbred. Her mount had been a claim horse on a backwater racetrack, a “prospect” being bought by her trainer. She remembered letting the reins out a notch and standing in the stirrups, feeling the horse opening his stride. The chiseled head mouthed the bit and pushed into the bridle, bounding forward in fluid strides that spilled across the soft earth.

She had opened the reins and felt the horse leap into them. The wind rose above all sounds, narrowing the world to just hooves exploding along the ground—and then the horse uncoiled and lifted, and the gallop was not a gallop anymore but a bolt and she was shooting through a tunnel of wind leaving the world outside stopped and static, a frozen background to the thunder beneath her that pounded on and on…

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“Nice teeth … for a parrot.”

Red and Blue from "Into the Dark" “There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something … even when you ain’t a thing!”– Will Rogers (1879-1935)

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history. The Golden Spark (Book #2) won the 2011 Written Arts Awards for best Science Fiction/Fantasy.

The year is 1861 in this excerpt, the location is Texas (USA) … Meagan is trying to keep the Great Horse from being sold away.

“There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something … even when you ain’t a thing!”

—Will Rogers (1879-1935)

Red and Blue from "Into the Dark"
“Can’t take less’n thirty-five dollars. He’s a real work horse and I’ll take what he’s worth.” It was Dan Beardon … he was talking quickly to two men as they exited together out the front door.

Concerned, Meagan decided to begin with cleaning the spittoon by the front window. She walked to it and casually rubbed a spot in the foggy saloon glass to see out. The dark sorrel horse, Blue, and the buckskin, Red, were standing tethered to the establishment’s hitching post. Dan and his two prospects were walking around Red, patting his backside. He was selling the Great Horse!

Dan seemed to recognize Meagan as she walked outside to join them, but he deliberately looked away and kept talking. She crossed her arms and listened.

“Thirty-five dollars, you say?” asked one of the buyers.

“Yup. And I’ll throw in the halter.”

Meagan made herself think quickly. She had to stay near Red … an idea was forming: “Excuse me, sir, is this the horse you ponied me into town on?”

The buyers glanced at her as Dan scowled. “Yes, I think I’d remember that tale of woe.”

“It can’t be … how did you get rid of his spavins?”

“Ignore her,” Dan advised. “The poor girl is touched.” He made a tapping gesture on his temple for illustration.

“Why, it is the same horse,” Meagan peered closer, sounding impressed. “Tell me, is he over that wheeze? Oh, that’s right, you said it was just heaves.”

The two buyers looked at each other.

“This horse never had spavins nor heaves,” Dan hissed. “Now get.”

Meagan stepped up to the buckskin’s head, patting him gently. “Nice teeth,” she said innocently, opening the buckskin’s lips, “for a parrot.” Smiling, she sidled up to a potential buyer and pointed at the horse’s rear portion. “You look like a horseman, so tell me … would you say the horse is sickle-hocked, or just cat-hammed? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, on account of the goose rump?”

Dan simmered, turning crimson. “Lady, I’ll tell you this just once—if you don’t get back inside, I’m contacting the establishment. This is pure harassment of the clientele.”

“If you come back here,” Meagan led the two prospects to stand a distance behind the horse, “you can see a rare thing. A horse pigeon-toed in front and cow-hocked behind!”

“That’s it! I’m getting Geez!”

“What’s the matter, Beardon?” asked one of the buyers. “Can’t answer the young lady’s questions?”

“That’s no lady, if you catch my meaning.”

“Oh?” Now Meagan reddened too. “At least I’m not trying to pawn off a slab-sided, ewe-necked wasp-belly with no wind and asking thirty-five good dollars for it.” Meagan smiled at Dan’s murderous expression as the two ex-buyers mumbled something and went back inside.

Dan went to Red and tossed his lead rope over the buckskin’s neck. “All right, that one’s going to cost you. See I felt sorry and didn’t press charges before, but I had witnesses. I think I’m going to poke into the sheriff’s station and see what’s what…”

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