Jenny: Drink Oblivion

She dreamed she rose from her bed of pearls and poppy-flowers to look out across the scarlet-flecked field. It was curved to the sky just slightly so that the forest which bordered the field lay down in a dark hedge on the horizon at either hand. In the field before her, very stark against the white-gold of the sky and pale green of the turf, stood her black horse Pharaoh. He came to her whistle with a dancing, rolling step, changing lead every few paces, head tucked up and mane flickering like black lightning on the wind of his going. And it was like lightning when he put her muzzle into her outstretched hand, a sort of electric charge flowing between them, from her to him and back, a single will between them. The horse gave one excited shudder and stood quite still.

She shed her leopard-skin dress and flung herself astride the horse. At once the horse was off on the same lead-changing gait; the wind flowed around them, tangible and cool as water. She laughed, caught up in the wild ecstasy of her ride and the living power of her mount moving to her will. She heard laughter elsewhere, familiar laughter. As it distilled upon her ears amid the soft unshod drum of Pharaoh's hooves, she recognized it as Ambrosius' laughter. She drew the horse to a halt and listened. And suddenly it dawned upon her that it was a sound she had not heard in a long time, a sound she rarely heard.

I've gone away within myself, she thought, and the laughter is still there. But this laughter inside her was free and full of the reckless abandonment of mirth. And then she could hear Artos, and Gaius, and Caleb and Kay and Bedwyr. As if she held each laugh in her hands she could pick them out perfectly, yet they came from far off, soft and gentle in their fullness. Then she saw that she was cupping a handful of pearls, and the laughter was Domitia's voice.

She rolled over, dragging the white sheet with her. The white-gold sunlight fell full in her face. She hated, above all else, to be roused from a particularly good sleep, and she felt cross that it was Domitia and not Jason or Ambrosius who had come to wake her up. With her defenses totally lowered, like a child she pressed the heels of her hands against her face and murmured indistinctly, pulling herself into ball among the sheet and pillows.

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