by G. Rigby
adapted from K. McCleaft’s original work
©2002 Rigby and McCleaft

Home -=- #27 -=- ANTHRO #27 Stories
-= ANTHRO =-
An earlier edition of this story can be found on the net

   “Aha! I see you brought the carrot I asked for!” Pegasus says with a chuckle. His head lowers as he bites it off somewhere below where your fingers curl around it. He munches happily for a few moments and then his dexterous lips push at your hand and fingertips, prying them open to get the remainder of the carrot from you.
   Finishing his snack, he raises his head and continues: “Ohh! That was a sweet and juicy one… Sorry, it’s just a thing of mine. Ever since my creation, my riders have always brought to me a gift. With some it was a golden bridle, with others carrots. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s given in kindness. Sort of a good luck thing, really. Pilots always have some good luck charm or sacrifice to ensure they have a good flight. Did you bring the leather strap and goggles I asked for as well?” Pegasus looks at you, his pupil, very carefully, nosing the goggles and the strap with his muzzle as if inspecting them, before finally nodding his head in acceptance.
   “Very good. Since this is your first flight, we’ll do things a bit differently today.” And suddenly, he is different; it’s as though the winged horse were impersonating the narrator of a driver’s training film. “First, a short explanation of the flight dynamics of your mount, its relative limits and some of the control systems that are integrated into him. It just so happens that your mount today is also your flight instructor and flight systems coordinator. In other words, you don’t want to annoy your airplane.” Pegasus briefly gives you a playful smirk, before returning to the serious facial expression and tone of an instructor.
   “I will now quote from the flight manual : ‘Your “Pegasus Mark 1” is equipped with three flight modes: Full Manual, AP and AP-Assist.’ Let me briefly explain these terms:
   “Full Manual. Most people never get the hang of fully manual flight. There are too many variables to consider while flying. In my experience they can end up dumping themselves very quickly off my back—not a good idea, that! And even if they stay on, ‘the flight can be rather jerky and ungraceful’, as the manual again says.
   “Full AP. This is rather like ‘Hands off the reins and hold on tight’!
   “AP-Assist. This is the most rewarding for both the rider and the mount. Slight cues can lead to a complex set of maneuvers that will perform the task in a relatively safe manner for both the rider and the mount. When any mode of AP is engaged, your mount—me—has the final say in what’s going to happen. This means I can exceed the design limits if I think it’s safe to do so without your intervention, or I can refuse to execute a command if I feel it’d be unsafe to do so. In aggressive maneuvers it’s best to hold on tightly with your legs and get a firm grip on my mane. The forces involved in some of the maneuvers can make the rider unsettled and unstable.”
   He stops for a moment, stepping slightly towards you. “But you can read all that later. For now, I think a practical demonstration will put it all into perspective.” You know he can see the expression on your face!
   “What’s the problem? No need to worry! When you mount, I’ll talk you through everything. You’ll run the leather safety strap beneath my belly like a girth, and attach the ends of the leather around your ankles to secure yourself safely. In later flights, after we talk about flying mounts and dismounts, we will not use this strap. By that time the muscles in your legs, back and arms should be strong enough to keep you steady even while in inverted flight. At low speeds you can sit upright with very little difficulty, however at moderate speeds you’ll need to crouch down in a very low ‘two point’ position. At high and extremely high speeds you’ll need to nearly lie down forward, flat on my back whilst hooking your feet behind into my flanks. While this isn’t comfortable for either of us, it does stop you from being blown off my back in winds that can exceed hurricane velocities. It also allows me to maintain those speeds much easier with minimal extra drag and turbulence from your body.
   “In the first chapter of the manual you will read, ‘In time you will be able to anticipate the movements and merge yours with your mount so that they act as a complete unit’. But for now, don’t be too upset or frustrated if you feel as if you’re losing contact with my back. The strap will hold you securely, and other than a few demonstration maneuvers, you’ll never experience a combined force less than zero Gs.
   “By the way, ‘G’ is the force of gravity. One ‘G’ is what you normally feel standing still. My wings don’t do so well in the negative ‘G’ region. The best analogy I can offer is to think of someone standing on your outstretched arms. As you can imagine, you’ll get very tired, quite quickly. However, if you hang your body from your outstretched arms, you can stay there a long time, even if you add more weight. The same thing happens when you’re flying. If you have to heave your weight over your head, you can do it, but only for a very short amount of time. Still, it can be very useful at the right time.
“The best advice I can give you is to make certain that you remain centered on my back. There’s a good reason for this. If you’re off balance and I transition into a climb, you’ll have a tendency to lean or fall in the direction of your imbalance. This will pull on the reins in the opposite direction of your fall, making me bank away from you. Your leg will push against the ‘wrong’ side making a sharp yaw that will move my body out from beneath you. So, grip with your knees tightly. Okay? At that point, the worst thing that can happen is that you fall off my back and the safety strap catches you, preventing you from falling free. You’ll be upside down beneath my belly, but a quick bank and negative G’s will force you upright again. You’ll be a bit shaken for sure, but unharmed. Just relax and go limp if this happens—I’ll keep an eye out for you.
   “Ready to go? The first thing we need is the bridle.” Pegasus smiles at you, noticing the scared expression on your face. Reassuringly he adds, “Don’t worry, I’ve only lost one rider before and that was under Zeus’ command. Poor Bellerophon… He was a fool; he thought he was a god. I only wish Zeus would have asked me to dump him rather than sending the wasp. It stung me in a very uncomfortable spot, I can tell you!” He pauses for a solemn moment, then adds, “But then again, I was young and probably wouldn’t have listened. After all, Bellerophon was my rider. I had to listen to him, right?”
   Shaking his head from side to side and then walking over to a tree, he noses it a few times then grabs the golden bridle hanging from it with dexterous lips. Walking back over to you he places the bridle into your hands.
   “We’ll need this,” he says. “Go ahead—put it on me.”
   Pegasus gives an equine smile as he watches you. He can see that the bridle feels very light in your hands, as it weighs only about a quarter of what a horse’s leather bridle weighs. He watches you as you gaze at the reins, cheekpieces, noseband and browband. Instead of leather, the entire bridle is made of thousands of strands of golden thread woven together. Greek words are embossed all down the length of the reins and over the noseband and browband. Most of the words are faded and undecipherable, but some of them catch your inquisitive eyes as they look much newer than the rest.
   Knowing what power the bridle has over him, Pegasus snorts, clearing his nostrils before lowering his head. He gladly accepts the bridle as you slide it over his nose, then closes his eyes for a moment, opening them a few seconds later to reveal a second clear eyelid that shines with a strange amber cast. His eyes now look distorted and enlarged behind what looks like protective covers. He doesn’t make a sound as you slide the reins over his neck and rest them on his withers. His neck arches proudly, head pointed at the ground as he stands there like a strong winged Lipizzaner, bridled and waiting for you to mount.
   “Are you ready now?” Pegasus asks, his body tightly compressed, forcing his back to arch slightly, his muscles tight as he stands in the proud pose that the Muses taught him. “Good; I’ll lower my wings like a ramp so you can mount easily.” His wings stretch forward and back, fluttering a few times before lowering both of them, letting you climb up and get on top of him. His wings still lowered, Pegasus smiles and looks back, watching as you place yourself firmly in the slight dip of his muscular back, just behind his withers.
   “Okay. See about putting that strap on your legs and make yourself comfortable. Then we’ll see where you are on my back, Okay?”. Pegasus moves his wings a bit forward, making it easier for you to reach your legs and place the straps tightly around your ankles.
   “No. No! That’s too tight. You don’t want to be pulling on your legs like that! You can’t use them like that! Make it rather loose, as the wind will take up the slack while we’re flying. The strap just needs to act as a safety line, that’s all.” Pegasus smiles and nods his head as he feels the strap loosening up and dangling in an arc beneath his belly. “Ah… that’s much better now. Are you comfortable there?” Pegasus feels you still moving about slightly, trying to center your body on his back as if you was riding a normal horse bareback. Folding his wings up against his side, you can feel where the hard bones of his wings where they rest against you on his back.
   “Okay, that’s pretty good, actually. Just be careful not to move your legs forward too much. You don’t want to get in the way of them flapping, but if my wings do catch you, the least that will happen is that you’ll get a bad bruise.”
   Pegasus quickly shakes his head from side to side as if there was something that went into one of his ears, before taking a few steps forward into the open field.
   “Most of this will come to you quite naturally, as I know you’ve ridden many grounded horses before,” Pegasus says in a soft voice. “On the ground the signals are just the same. However, in the air there are a few changes you need to be aware of. Since we’re now dealing with three-dimensional motion, the commands change slightly. Pulling on the reins on either side signals me to bank in that direction. A leg pressing is a request to yaw away from that leg. This isn’t dissimilar to the way you ride a grounded horse. However, the way you use your body weight is very different—it can take some getting used to. Leaning back doesn’t mean ‘stop’, it means ‘climb’; likewise, leaning forward means ‘dive’. Both legs means ‘go faster’, and finally, a slight tension on both reins means ‘slow down’. If you let go of the reins I’ll take over and try my best to follow other cues for banking. Slightly leaning in either direction will alert me that you want to bank in that direction. The best turns you can do will be in a bank with a slight outside leg applied, leaning back slightly to apply some lift. A slight yaw into the turn will make the bank very tight and keep your weight centered on my back. The positive lift in the bank changes the force-vector, which further increases the rate of turn and holds you firmly in place. If done right, I can literally turn around in the length of one wingspan. Handy if you’re fighting monsters, that! Lifting up on both reins is a request to swell; letting both reins hang low, to sink. Got all of that?” Pegasus smiles at you, obviously knowing that it’s a lot to take in at the first sitting, but also knowing (or hoping?) that you’ll get the hang of it shortly.
   “Ready? Put your goggles on then!” Pegasus says with a chuckle, knowing that you’ll be quite glad you had them on later, “They keep the bugs out of your eyes, as well as the cold wind. So, just drop the reins and hold on tight…”
   He turns to face directly into the wind, looking into the direction of a sizeable length of clear and level field ahead. “We’re going to do a long field take off. It’s harder on me to do this, but it’ll be the most comfortable for you on your first flight. The transition is smooth between ground and air and isn’t met with as much contempt as a ‘leaping’, performing a ‘cliff dive’ or a ‘perch jumping’ take off. Most people panic with those the first time. But there again, I know you’ve jumped grounded horses off banks across country, right?”
   Pegasus snickers and waits for you to get your goggles in place and firmly grasp his mane. He takes a few steps, his forelegs popping up and down like in a walking horse gait as he begins to move forward steadily. Slowly Pegasus increases his speed; walking, trotting, and finally cantering. Nothing feels unusual about this, it's familiar and relaxing. Slowly his wings spread from his body; you can feel the muscles tense beneath your seat as they stretch outwards, the wind beginning to swirl and blow about you. Speeding up his canter, the familiar three-beat rhythm changes to the four beat of a slow gallop. Pegasus’ head and neck gracefully rise up and down in time with his gallop, marking the beginning and ending of each four-beat group.
   “Now with the wind whistling around, you may have difficulty hearing me,” he shouts, “so listen carefully, Okay?” The feathers on his wings that were previously standing and blowing about randomly are now slowly laying down flat as he travels faster and faster. Reaching the limit of speed that his legs can carry him on the ground, Pegasus pulls his wings forward and quickly flaps them backwards with a sound like a dull ‘flap!’ He returns his wings back to the outstretched position and looks back at you.
   “If you’re feeling a bit queasy now, don’t worry,” he shouts again. “That’s a normal sensation—you’ll get used to it.” His forelegs lift off the ground for a moment and then touch the ground again, almost like a horse doing a very small jump. Snapping his wings back a second and then a third time, you feel his speed increase further, his body hopping through the air like a gazelle. It would be very difficult to sit to if you weren’t so used to a normal horse when it’s bucking!
   His wings flap again. This time there’s no lurching, just a slight pressure as you’re forced down tighter into his back. Pegasus gives you a playful squeal, his wings fluttering quickly as the ground seems to lower away from you as his body turns upwards towards the sky. His wings flap quickly now, like a bird’s that just jumped from the limb of a tree. He continues to climb and increases his speed. The ground seems to move a bit faster, but it doesn’t appear as fast as you thought it would. As you look down at the buildings, ponds and trees below, each of them is in complete detail, giving you the illusion that you could literally reach down and touch them. Nevertheless, you know you’re much higher than that, and any fall from this height would be very bad indeed.
   “Does it make it look more or less real?” Pegasus asks. Even he sometimes doesn’t believe what he sees at this low altitude, the features of the ground appearing almost cartoon-like. On other occasions, the details he sees are his affirmation that things are truly real and pure.
   Stretching his wings completely out from his sides, the wind roaring beneath them and holding them straight, for the first time you see how large they truly are. All the feathers laying perfectly flat in the slipstream, they give his wings the appearance of being completely solid. Feeling comfortable with his current altitude and speed, you notice Pegasus is mostly gliding, his wings flap only on a few occasions to maintain his height.
   “Okay back there?” Pegasus asks, obviously checking on you to make sure you can handle the strange sensations of being in flight. “For any grounded creature, the first transition to flight can be truly unnerving. Let’s get through the boring stuff; then I’ll take you on a ride and show you a few things that I find endearing and am sure you’ll also enjoy.”
   “Go ahead and take the reins. Don’t worry, we’ll run in AP-Assist so nothing bad will happen. This is probably where we will do most of our work. I’ll let you push me to my limits, but I won’t let either of us get hurt by it. I may seem a bit unforgiving right now, but you’re learning and I want you to know how many things you have to keep track of in order to fly gracefully.”
   As you take hold of the reins, Pegasus continues talking: “At this speed, we can still just talk to each other. But the faster we go, the less I’ll be able to hear you. The wind will carry my voice back to you, but unless you’re screaming I won’t hear a thing. If the ride gets too bad and you need me to stop, drop the reins and grab onto my mane. I’ll return to straight and level flight as soon as possible. This reaction was trained into me in the days of old, when people fought from my back. A weapon normally requires two hands and they needed a stable platform to shoot from, rather like the way a modern helicopter is used now. Now we use this reaction if the pilot’s getting vertigo and needs to see a stable horizon. You’ll get used to the sensation the more you fly.”
   Pegasus flaps his wings in long full strokes, the wings cupping slightly as he pulls them backwards through the air, looking like a swimmer in water propelling themselves about. “Don’t believe your eyes,” he adds. “While the ground and heavens are real, we are not part of either of them; we’re in-between. Watch them move around us and use them as a reference, but always remember that we’re not part of them. We’re isolated up here.” Pegasus flaps his wings a few more times, his hind legs slowly moving backwards to trail behind his body, letting the air rushing beneath his belly lift his hind quarters and tail just like the tail of a aircraft.
   “Let’s start with the most misunderstood vector in flight, the yaw.” Pegasus takes a deep breath, his wings curling so that middle is pushed upwards a little more. “Take one of your legs, move it back slightly and lightly press inward as if you were asking me to take that lead in a canter.” Pegasus waits till he feels your leg press against him and moves his own hind leg so the lift and drag become unbalanced. Slowly the ground spins around you giving you the sensation that you’re at the center of a huge ship’s compass, watching the dial move beneath you.
   “Very good! That was a reasonable amount of pressure, now in the other direction?” Pegasus returns to a neutral position and waits for your other leg to press inwards. The horizon stays completely flat in comparison to his wings before the world slowly spins in the other direction.
   “Not too bad! A yaw is useful for making very small changes in direction over time. It keeps the world relatively flat with respect to us, but it’s not a very efficient way to turn. For one thing, it involves a lot of drag.” Pegasus’ wings quickly flutter, pulling the air faster past him as he lurches forward, accelerating to compensate for his previous maneuvers.
   “There’s a better way to turn, and it’s called the bank. When we bank, I’ll change the attack angle of one of my wings so that it generates more lift. That could turn us over completely, if not corrected. Once we’re no longer parallel to the ground, where’s the lift? It’s still right over my wings. So, we get pulled by the lift into a turn. Cool, eh? Go ahead and give it a try…”
   Pegasus whickers happily as he feels you gently pull on his left rein, his head turning slightly before he begins to bank. Oddly, the world begins to rotate clockwise. You feel the weight in your seat increasing just as it did during the takeoff. It almost seems like the world is somehow connected on a shaft through the centerline of this flying horse’s body as it turns to the left about you. Pegasus’ wings still remain flat with respect to you as you slowly see the results of the bank; not only does the horizon turn slightly clockwise as if you were leaning a bicycle or motorbike into a turn, but the ground is spinning just as it did with the yaw. However the increased sound of the wind rushing past your ears tells you you’re going faster!
   “You see? We’re not losing as much speed as we did with the yaw,” Pegasus shouts back to you. “Now change the direction!”
   You pull back on the right rein. Feeling the pressure on his bridle change over to the opposite side, Pegasus rolls out from the bank and turns in the other direction, the horizon looking like a see-saw as it now rotates counterclockwise. As expected, you begin to turn in the other direction, the buildings and trees seeming to come diagonally out from the top corner of your eye and disappear to the bottom.
   Pegasus gives a soft laugh and rolls out of the bank, “Okay. Let’s talk about what you just felt. The world seemed to be turning around you, right? But you weren’t moving all that much? There’s a reason for this. First of all, my head and wings make a very good reference for your body. I don’t seem like I’m moving because you’re moving with me. Also, your own senses in your ears are telling you that gravity hasn’t moved. It was right beneath you just as it always was. There are some very complex reasons why this happens, but in short it’s what we call banking turn coordination. I’m doing that for you. What I’m doing automatically, because of my experience, is pulling myself into a slight climb and also adding opposite yaw. This puts the center of our relative gravity right beneath us. I’ll show you what happens when I don’t do this on a much smaller scale. Put the reins down now, but you must hold on tightly!”
   The flying horse waits for you to put the reins down and get a firm grip on his mane. Slowly he turns into what feels like a 20 degree bank to the left, the sensation just as it was before.
   “Okay. Now, let me take out the yaw.” Pegasus centers his hind legs. Slowly you feel as if you’re leaning to one side, one leg pulling hard against his downward side as you feel the centrifugal force of the turn trying to throw you sideways off his back!.
   “Now I’ll remove the climb.”
   You watch as the horizon visible between his ears raise slightly, and you instinctively grip tightly as you feel a sensation that not only are you going to be tossed from his back sideways, but also a stronger sensation that you’ll slide down his back and off his rump too!
   Pegasus holds this uncoordinated bank for a few more seconds waiting to feel for that detached panic that every horse does right before the rider looses grip with their legs. Snapping the bank hard in the opposite direction, Pegasus climbs fast. His body seeming to rotate beneath you, centering itself between your legs again and then pressing hard into you. Slowly he rolls out of the bank and flies level for a few moments, flapping his wings to gain more speed while you recover myself from this somewhat frightening experience!
   He whickers, then tells you, “That’s why I said not many people ever get the hang of fully manual flight.” As he feels your legs relax a bit as you calm down, he continues; “There are too many things to think about and too much of one thing and not the other can bring about disaster. I have a few things that let me know where the center of gravity is at any time. Almost like a judge’s scale, I can tell if it’s to one side, forward or behind us. That lets me know how much of what we need. What you just felt is called slipping. A uncoordinated turn is dangerous for the rider and also for the mount. I can stall my wings by doing this too, but I’ll talk about that later. For now, just know that it’s not good!”
   “Oh look!” Pegasus cries out as he points his muzzle in the direction of a few clouds drifting in a line. “A gift for me!” Pegasus chuckles and slowly banks so that he’s pointing directly at the clouds. “This is a thermal updraft. It’s wonderful for us flying horses, not to mention birds and those crazy humans with gliders.” Chuckling as he flaps his wings, he maintains his speed as he begins to climb towards the clouds. “You see how high we are to the clouds? Watch this!”
   Pegasus again flies level, the horizon line just touching the top of his head. Looking upwards you see the clouds coming closer, still gaining altitude as he passes beneath. Coming out the other side from beneath the clouds, he begins to sink, the ‘ceiling’ getting farther away from you, only to come closer as he passes beneath the next cloud. Pegasus whickers happily as he just keeps his wings steady, enjoying the stress-free flying for the few miles that the clouds take him.
   “On long trips, I look for these. It’s free lift! Gives me a breather! The unfortunate thing is that you’re more than likely to find these right on the edges of storm fronts. This could be very bad if you’re not moving fast enough to get out the danger areas.” Pegasus gives a loud squeal as he continues.
    “We can also do something called ballooning or swelling. We add the added lift of my wings to the lift of the thermals and really have a high rate of climb. We can get very high, very quickly!” Pegasus banks and turns towards the clouds again, his wings flapping fast, scooping the wind as he climbs as fast as he can. Just as he gets beneath the cloud, you suddenly feel a strong sinking weight in your belly, the clouds zooming towards you as he rides high on the subtle updrafts from the heated air. Cloud after cloud, he continues finally to a height where it seems like you can almost reach up and touch its base.
   Pegasus whickers happily, his wings curling slightly to increase the surface area that the air is passing over. The quick moving air roaring beneath his wings sends trembles and vibrations throughout his entire body and through your seat. Slowing down, the howling wind subsides to a fraction of the level of noise of a few seconds before. As you look down you can see the landscape below, the familiar houses and buildings are reduced to tiny blocks that blur into the haze that hugs the ground.
   “One last thing before we finish is to have a little fun.” The wind continues to slow, its sound nearly a whisper as it blows past your heads and bodies. You begin to feel Pegasus’ body moving about, quick movements of his wings and flanks making you feel as if he was squirming in flight. The ground seems to stand still, making it seem like you’re being left hanging in the air as the clouds seem to speed ahead of you, being blown quickly by the winds aloft. Arching his wings even higher, he seems to fight the urge to flap them. You can see that he’s really struggling now when you then the smaller feathers near the trailing edge of his wing begin to lift and swirl about.
   Panting with the effort, Pegasus speaks, “This is called a stall. It’s one of the most dangerous things we can do other than flying blind!” He squeaks for a moment as a gust of wind blows across the two of you, turning him into a slight bank. Feeling his muscles tense, he quickly recovers from the wind gust then continues speaking…
   “This is bad because I have very little control over what happens. My wings are at a point where they’re barely holding us in the sky. This state is called MCA, or ‘minimum controllable airspeed’.”
   Now you feel a slight shaking, a vibration that travels down one of his wings, through his body and yours, then across the other wing.
   “In this state, I can still maintain flight, but if I ask my wings to do anything we’ll stall! A stall can happen at any speed if you ask too much of them. At high speed, it’s called a ‘departure stall’, as the wind departs from the normal curvature of my wing. We won’t do any of those, as they’re quite violent! In a normal stall, like what we’re going to do in a second, the condition that we end up with is determined by what we do right before the stall. The last fractions of a second will mean everything. If we’re unbalanced when we stall, we’ll fall in the direction of our relative gravity. That’s why it’s so important to have coordinated turns. Can you imagine what would happen if we stalled in a bank? That’s why it’s so unsafe. So. Hold on tight!”
   Pegasus lowers his head as he abruptly finishes speaking, the horizon lowering slightly below his head. The more it lowers, the farther up his wing his feathers stand on end until you feel a sickening vibration shooting from side to side across his wings and body. A few seconds later, you see all of his wing feathers stand straight up, exposing the strong but delicate looking bones of his wings. Your head spins for a moment, the sensation of free falling making your stomach suddenly jump into your throat! Looking forward, you see the horizon is very high above his head. A quick look to the side shows that you’re falling towards the ground in a near 45 degree angle! You scream in panic! Pegasus doesn’t do anything, maybe he can’t hear you? His wings are stretched out as far as they can go, waiting for the familiar embrace of the wind to grab a hold of him. As the speed of his fall increases, you can see the ground slowly rotating before you, swinging like a pendulum from side to side. You hang on even tighter. Slowly the swinging slows and mutes, his feathers laying flat down against the framework of his strong wings again.
   When Pegasus feels that your seat is firmly down against his back again, making you feel safe and reassured once more, he starts flapping his wings in powerful strokes. The wind begins to pick up as he regains control of his flight. Before the sound of the wind becomes deafening, he cries out to you…
   “Alright, enough of this boring stuff,” he says, the chuckle not far from his voice. “Let’s go and have some real fun! Velcro saddle pads may have been a good idea, because I’m going to show you what this ancient creature can do!”
   Pegasus flaps his wings hard, the powerful strokes slapping furiously at the wind while he increases his angle of descent. The sound of the wind turns rapidly from a blowing, through a whistling to a roaring then finally a deafening howling. Your goggles are pressed firmly into your face, tightly pressing against it as the wind speed increases. You now understand why Pegasus asked you to bring them and insisted you used them, your eyes would be surely dried out and uncomfortable by now. Despite the speed, the ride is not uncomfortable at all. The slow vibrations are replaced with a very smooth steady glide. You can feel your own hair blowing about and as you tuck your head down against his neck, causing Pegasus’ blowing mane to teasingly tickle you along your face and neck. The ground is getting closer, at first it doesn’t seem to move much, but as Pegasus goes faster and flies closer to the ground you begin to have some idea at just how incredibly fast he really is going. Small details in the houses and trees quickly enlarge and solidify, your rising excitement now making your heart race inside your chest.
   Looking ahead you suddenly see the tree tops of a small grove that he had been apparently diving towards, and shut your eyes, instinctively bracing myself for the impact!
   Pegasus’s flattened wings suddenly stretch outward at the last moment, a deep groan escapes from your lips as you get pressed hard into his back and neck as he levels out to clear the trees by only a few inches! The sound of the howling wind flutters and pulses as he goes over the patches of trees as the air pressure changes mutes your ears momentarily.
   Squealing in happiness, Pegasus follows the contours of the land, climbing and sinking as necessary to maintain his tree-hopping altitude. Up ahead you can see the banks of a river quickly approaching, the high levee walls holding back the flood of water that threatens to overflow them. Pegasus’ wings bank slightly, gracefully turning you as he pass over the river bank walls. Leveling out above the river’s waters, Pegasus’ wings begin to flap up and down, gracefully, undulating in full sweeps as he maintains his speed. Sinking slowly towards the water and looking downwards you watch as a deep depression forms in the water from his body’s down wash! Like a fountain, the waters collapse behind him, splashing upwards in an arc that seems to foam and spray like an extension of his own high outstretched tail!
   Pegasus has obviously done this many times before, his wings holding steady as all of his muscles tense, bracing himself for what it to come. Gliding at high speed, he gracefully banks around the bend of the river. You can see the rivers end now approaching quickly, a steep drop where the rivers massive waters falls into a deep ravine. Squealing loudly, as if giving a warning to you, his body begins to bank and roll, turning nearly perpendicular to the waters beneath you.
   Pegasus’s body begins to sink towards the water as if he was going to dive beneath its translucent surface!
    Just as you begin to think that his wing was going to touch, he rolls ever farther making the sky dangle beneath your legs. A sickly feeling fills your senses as you now begin to drop quickly, the waters edge beneath you as you fall into the mist-filled roaring abyss. Flapping his wings, and climbing, you watch the world spin about you as he dives quickly in a inverted arc into the ravine.
   Squealing playfully, Pegasus’ forelegs move in time with his wings giving you the sensation that he’s running along the ravine’s walls. Slowly leveling out his banked turn, he pulls away from walls, his forelegs tucking back beneath him. His nostrils flutter a few times, nickering softly in equine greetings as if he spotted someone he knew as he passed over top of them. The ground is moving so fast around you that it blurs into a flash of bright and dark colors. Squealing loudly, his wings suddenly stretch out! His body turns upwards to the sky, banking slowly as soars through the air in a completely vertical climb! You can feel through your body that Pegasus’ heart is racing in his chest, his wings and breathing in complete syncopation as he beats them again the air, thrusting himself upwards. You look down, watching the ground spinning behind you. Trying to stop the sickening feeling of the slow spin, you try focus your eyes on a single object before resigning to only looking straight ahead past his forelegs. The rushing air begins to slow, as his strength is unable to keep this steep climb for much longer. From above you can see the thin clouds getting ever closer, the red setting sun shining through them forming shafts of light that descend from the clouds, bathing you both in their crimson light. Pegasus’ coat takes on a different cast, shining brightly as the sweat glistens in the cool air, like a coating of glass following the contours of his entire body.
   Without warning, Pegasus punches through the cloud ceiling, your eyes temporarily blinded in the red light for a moment as the glowing water vapor rushes past you, covering your bodies with a fine layer of dew. Coming out on top of the clouds, Pegasus climbs upwards still, his entire body undulating beneath you, using every last muscle he has to continue upwards. You can’t help but to smile as you look outwards, the cloud layer quickly sinking beneath you giving you the illusion of leaving the ground for the second time.
   Pegasus finally tires, satisfied with his current altitude, he relaxes, the air slowing, enjoying the last few moments of his upward inertia. Kicking out with his forelegs, his nostrils flared wide, neck arched and teeth bared, Pegasus squeals at the last moment, looking like a wild stallion that wants to fight! His adversary being the gravity that pulls him back towards the ground away from where he loves to be! Reaching the top of his flight, his body stands still, little clouds of steam rising from his flanks that fills the bitterly freezing cold air surrounding you both. Standing static for a moment, the steam billows and morphs in front of you before blowing past his muzzle as he begins to sink. The flying horse quickly folds his wings tightly against his body trapping your legs against him. You feel quite secure in your seat as his body rolls over backwards and begins to fall, pushing the ground up over your head. Pegasus only falls for about five seconds before squirming like a cat, kicking outwards with his legs, holding his neck to a side, turning him right side over. Lowering his hind legs, he adds more drag, his rump pulling higher than his head, then suddenly he thrusts his wings outwards, catching the wind beneath them and soaring downwards towards the clouds below.
   With the cool wind blowing across his back and belly, Pegasus whickers happily, enjoying the lovely feeling of the air as it tickles him. Holding his wings in a high ‘V’, you sink quickly towards the white ground, giving you the feeling that you’re just floating above the winged steed’s back. Lowering his wings slowly, you can feel your weight push down into his back again, his decent slowing as he glides over the vast ocean of the clouds. As you look around, you watch the clouds billow and ripple beneath you, ever changing their shapes and form as he sinks lower still. Lowering his head, stretching it as far forward as he can, Pegasus whickers happily to you, his legs raking across the tops of the clouds leaving little streaks behind them.
   The sun continues to lower in the sky as he, continues to slowly sink, his body beginning to become enveloped by the soft moist clouds. You watch in astonishment as his wings sink below the opaque covering of the clouds, leaving nothing but your own torso standing above their tops. Quickly turning your head to look behind you, you can see the vortices of his wings stirring up the clouds behind him. Like the wake of a boat, the crests are folding over in two symmetrical rings that expand like cones into the distance. Feeling as if you’re alone, standing among the clouds, Pegasus slowly yaws to the left towards the setting sun, the crimson red light turning the clouds into an sea of fire. Brilliant orange and red in the distance, the clouds turn a dark red and black alongside you. As you look, you feel you can almost pick out the details of faces and animals in the clouds that seem to be watching over you. Pegasus continues at this level for a few more moments before sinking again, letting the soft mist wash over your face as you descend into the clouds once more. Looking above, you can’t help but say farewell to those images you saw above as you leave them behind. Feeling rested, Pegasus now soars effortlessly in a slow descending spiral. As you come closer to the ground, you once again begin to recognize where you are, the details of the ground slowly becoming familiar. Leveling in a banking turn you look over top of his head, having learned now how to tell where he’s aiming, and can then see the clear and open field that you both took off from.
   Pegasus whickers deeply before crying out in a loud whinny. At first you have no idea what he’s calling out to or for, but a few seconds later you can see a small herd of horses in the field, all looking upwards towards the sky. They stand there motionless for a moment, and then turn about, taking off in at a gallop. Pegasus swoops lower, his neck arched as he catches up to them, the galloping horses all running though the field as fast as they can. Sinking gently he flares his wings, reaching forward with them before slowing down. You watch the horses as Pegasus quickly matches their speed, then slows so that they pass beneath him by only a few feet as he runs with them for a moment.
   Flapping his wings quickly, his forelegs raise high into the air, his hind legs stretching downward to the ground. Just as his hind legs touch, he lowers his forelegs, his wings quickly flattening out, supporting his weight as he tries to match the galloping motion of his legs to the speed of the ground. Stumbling a few times, he finally slows to a point where his legs take over, his wings flaring so he can use them as brakes, making him quickly slow from a gallop to canter and finally to a trot.
   Safely on the ground, Pegasus folds his wings against his body, trotting about proudly as a few rogue lightning bolts crash off in the distance. Pegasus arches his neck and tucks his muzzle against his chest as he trots towards a nearby barn in such a way that anyone that looks upon you would be in envy. Finally reaching the barn, he comes to a complete stop, his body shaking slightly as he adjusts again to being on the ground. Lowering his wings slightly he releases his grasp on you and looks back to speak.
   Pegasus smiles at you. “You can untie the strap and get off if you wish.” His ears perk forward as you reluctantly remove the golden bridle. Closing his eyes for a second, he reopens them and gazes back at you with his normal equine eyes.
   “That was your introductory flight. You did very well; do you want to fly again?” Pegasus inquires. He takes a few steps and folds his wings against his body, resting them before he walks over to take several long drinks from the watering trough.
   “Yes,” you reply, “I would like that very much!”
   Backing away from the trough, Pegasus bows his head to his rider, then looks into the heavens and says loudly,

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