The boy Achilles and his mentor rode onwards. Sometimes the ground was hard and tensile, sometimes they traipsed slowly through water, dead and stagnant, the lifeless pools splashing the feet and legs of the travellers; edged by crusts of salt mud that told Phoenix they were nearing the coast. The mud was encrusted and stank as the hooves broke the surface and buzzed the flies and mosquitoes that thrived in the putrid air so even the horses seemed to hold their breath. But when the ground hardened and the spaces opened the horses would gallop sensing their freedom, the saddle leather groaning, their manes tossing with Achilles and Phoenix both laughing at the wild sky. And still onwards through valleys where wild flowers bloomed and butterflies skitted and then a day of dark horizons with prickly scrubs and shale underfoot so the horses skidded and the two travellers dismounted to guide them. But just as quickly a green pasture with lush streams of sunlight telling Achilles that his land was one of many moods; always pushing westwards until the sun set before them so to look up was to see a vista of gold and orange. Sometimes Achilles would trot ahead and turn to see the dark silhouette of Phoenix set fast against an indigo sky. The last rays often turned their shadows to purple in the hidden bowels of the landscape. Then a hush would drift between them filling the voiding valleys with silence but for the distant howling of wolves, the clatter of the hooves over the harder ground and the vile ululations of the waning moon.