Tears of the Heart

Mark slammed the door to the manor; he was tired of listening to his father yammer on. Straightening his crimson riding outfit, he strode out onto the lawn, to the dismay of the ever-persistent gardeners. In his frustration at his father, he ignored them, and proceeded to cut over to the stables. He never thought about how he looked, he cared not what he looked like, no matter what situation. At the moment though, he cut a striking figure. His closecut crimson riding coat brought out the reddish brown shades in his hair, which was not, as one might presume, neat. It was credibly mussed. The rest of his clothing was quite plain for a nobleman, as he hated his own title. His father was in love with the aristocratic hierarchy, while he simply wanted to live life to its fullest. That was, once again, what they had been arguing about. He was sick of his father's nattering about him taking a wife; he had no intention of settling down any time soon.

Mark was seventeen, at a time where all the (as he thought), extremely brainless noblewomen pretended, or in some cases, really did swoon at the sight of him. And his father encouraged it! One would never think the man had once been sensible the way he acted now! Instead of drowning his worries in a beaker of ale, as most men near the manor did, Mark usually rode around on his horse. Most of his peers despised solitude and thrived off of social activities, but he was a loner, despite his disarming appearance. He said enough to get by, but tried to escape company for the most part. Almost all of the nobles he had to consort with were city-bred, and hardly ever even visited their estates. Mark actually rode around his land a little most days, talking to the gardeners, visiting with the townspeople and such. He may not say much, but his father's subjects liked him nonetheless.

The head gardener, simply called Phips, rose out of a petunia bed to greet Mark, saw Mark's face, and wisely decided that now might not be the best time to talk to Mark. Mark may have been quiet, but when his temper was stirred, it was not in anyone's interest to bother him. Unless they were feeling suicidal, Phips allowed. Mark, having missed all of this, was now reaching the stables.

The stables were a grand affair, freshly painted a low hue of blue, not enough to draw to much sight from the forests around it; not too drab to skip over without a second glance. There were two swinging doors, tall enough for a huge horse to easily clear, let alone a young man. With one hand, Mark pushed open the door and stepped into the barn. He walked straight down to the end of the stall, where Charcoal, his half-tamed horse, was kept. His horse was (inconveniently for him) kept at the end of the stalls because she let no one handle, or even touch her, but Mark. Sensing his mood, as was usual of late, she gave a snort, as if to say, "Aren't you used to your father's stupidity by now?" He grabbed a curry brush and wondered exactly how much his horse understood him. Sometimes, it could be rather scary.

As one might imagine, Charcoal, was black. Not black with hues of brown, not black with dull color, but simply, bright, shining, black. Well, at least she would be shining after he was done currying her. Sometimes she could be a pain! As he finished cinching the straps on her saddle, he grabbed a slip of paper, rummaged in his pocket for a pen, and scribbled a note to his father that he would be out for the rest of the day. Usually when he did this, his father would have stopped fuming by the time he arrived home, and he could win the argument. Like he had decided before, he had no intention of settling down with some disdaining noblewoman. As he didn't like any of them, one can understand why he put off courting and marriage. Those women only cared about the value of the marriage, anyway. Charcoal nudged him, and he put down the pen and tacked the note to the side of the stall. If father cared that much, he could come see for himself. He hopped onto Charcoal and cantered off out of the stable.

The wind was blowing hard, Charcoal's mane was blowing sideways in the breeze, making her look wild and untamed. He knew that she would never through him, as he had had her for five years. He reached the entrance to the woods and brought Charcoal to a halt. He glanced around to make sure nobody was following him; he had had a weird feeling of late that unseen eyes were watching him whenever he went into the woods. As he surveyed the area, he took in the sight of shady elms and maples branching into eachother, casting pools of shadow across the damp ground. Squirrels chattered as they collected nuts, although it was spring. He saw elegant birches, graceful, with trunks and branches that strove to touch the stars. He stepped from his horse, and patted her back. He could feel himself giving in, his anger slipping away, and he walked into the woods.

"Come on Charcoal, let's go." He whispered, although he could have shouted and no one would have heard. But he didn't, as the atmosphere of the entire place was too sacred to be shaken by something like that. Holding Charcoal's bridle, he walked through the forest, looking for the spot that he rested in every day. Coming arounda huge oak tree, he smiled. They were at the spot now. He tied Charcoal's leading cord to the tree, and she gave him a disapproving gaze. He gave her a mischievious smile, and lade down to see if his plan would work today.