We arrived at the gates of the southern lands, and the king had sent an escort for us. There was still another week of travel, across a desert, so the escort was welcome. They had brought their traditional tents and food, and music. At night, when we camped, the torches were lit and the musicians played. The first night I didn’t pay much attention. I was numbed by the fact that we’d reached the last part of the voyage and my fate was rushing up towards me like a hurricane. I fell asleep in one of the new tents, on the softest mattress I’d ever laid upon, and my dreams were colored by the strange music.

The next day, I felt better. The king had sent horses, and one of them was a gift to me. Nothing pleased me as much as a good horse, and this one was equal to the very best my mother’s tribe bred. Smaller and narrower than the mountain horses, it was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. At first, I’d taken it for a white deer as it pranced up to me, led by a groom. It had huge eyes, its muzzle was so small it could drink from my bowl, and its ears were curved in, giving it an inquisitive look. Its neck was arched like a swan, and its tail was held high as a streaming flag.

What is her name?” I asked the groom.

She is yours, so you must give her a name,” he replied in his language. A translator stood by my side at all times now, so I could communicate.

What is your word for gift?” I asked.


And for precious?”


I’ll call her Keemladi,” I said, stroking her velvety nose.

The people around me looked pleased. I had chosen a good name. That day I rode my new horse. My father ride beside me. I hadn’t spent time alone with him in ages. I was still angry with him though – for taking my mother’s side, for not trusting me. He knew though, and his first words to me were an apology. My heart was not hard enough to resist my father’s regret. I cried and hugged him, and told him I was sorry. For what, I didn’t know, but it made him smile.