Sulde Taala

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The Sulde Taala is a magical being who is usually found in the form of an all-white mare with glossy black hooves but can, according to legend, take on the form of a beautiful woman with long blond hair and dark eyes. It is because of a former Sulde Taala that the Wind Elves came to be, after she killed the traitorous Elf named Inicarwu. The current Sulde Taala resides in Horse Clan, in the form of a white mare. The Wind Elves deeply respect and practically worship the Sulde Taala. Only the Horse-Singer, also known as the Jan Taipen (Spirit of the Clan), a shaman of the Horse Clan, is permitted to touch her. The Sulde Taala is an intelligent being and, although she does not talk while in her horse form, she is believed to carry messages to and from the gods on behalf of the Wind Elves. Even though she is magical, the Sulde Taala is mortal and will eventually die, as the former ones have died. There have actually been many of her, one at a time, and each new one is again named Sulde Taala.

Look Description

She is white and yet not-white; she is the white of moonlight on water and of the stars just before dawn, with a sheen that evokes the cool, refractive glimmer of ice crystals or silver mercury. Her small, neat hooves are pure black with a slight gloss as though they have been lightly oiled. Dark against her fine-boned face, the depths of her black eyes swirl with faint hints of amber. Around her gracefully arched neck hangs a garland of crimson firefall blossoms, their gold-tipped crimson petals brilliant against the snowy white of her coat.

Book Quotes

The following is taken from People of the Horse (book):

...she was perfect in every detail. She was pure white, with some ineffable other hue -- not pale blue, but something like the thought of blue glimmering just under the white. She was the white of moonlight on water; the white of midwinter snowfall. She was the white of seafoam cresting the waves over the deepest part of the ocean; the white of the blazing-star flowers that bloom at twilight. She was fine-boned to the point of being almost fragile in appearance, though nothing about her seemed frail, if that makes any sense. She looked as though she could skip through the clouds themselves and never leave a trace of her passage in the sky. She had great black eyes, and her narrow hooves were black, too, and glossy. Her flowing mane and tail...wasn't like any horsehair I'd ever seen. It was more like gossamer, or silk. Around her neck was a carefully painted garland of red-gold blossoms. Firewheel flowers, my father said they were called.

"The Sulde Taala, she's not like any of the others." He paused, thinking. "I don't really know where she comes from. She's a horse, yes, but there's something else....", he shook his head. "I can't describe it, I've not the words. It's a feeling you get when you see her, like she knows things beyond our ken. The Horse Clan folk, well -- they don't worship her, exactly. But it's their belief that she carries messages from them to the gods, and from the gods back to them. So she's treated with great reverence. She's never saddled and never shod. She runs free, and always has her own meadow. Only a particular one of the Clan's shamans -- they call him the Horse-Singer -- only the Horse-Singer can touch her. But she's not wild, not in the way of an untamed horse.

"You'll be going about your business in the village, and she'll suddenly there. Gazing at you with those great, dark eyes of hers. One night, I remember, I couldn't sleep. I was walking -- you know the way I walk the night sometimes..." here he flushed as my mother chuckled at him. "Well, I felt a presence, and -- there she was. Pacing along next to me like we were old companions, and her not making a sound. I couldn't even hear her hooves on the ground. She walked with me like that for some time, and then just...faded back into the night. When I went back to my tent, I was able to fall asleep right away. My dreams were filled with a sweet, wild singing, and I felt a deep peace like..." He stopped there, and I thought I saw tears glinting in his eyes. "I've not felt anything like it before or since, but it changed me somehow, opened some corner of my soul." He pulled my mother a little closer, rested his cheek against my little sister's curls, and went quiet for a time.

"But for all that, the Sulde Taala is a mortal being. A creature of the earth as much as you and me. For the Sulde Taala comes to the end of her days and dies, like all creatures must die eventually. I don't know what happens at that time, or how the Clan folk deal with it. I just know that at the center of every Horse Clan campsite is a stack of horse skulls, all beaded and inlaid as richly as any treasure I've ever seen. And the Clan folk told me that these were the skulls of former Sulde Taala."