Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena
unclehyena

Another Fragment

Back when I was still working on "Storybook Orc", I came up with the idea of giving Quill a skeletal horse. Given that the undead are pretty much invariably evil in Dragonstorm, this idea was met with everything from disgust to outrage, with a couple of more savvy people being merely curious.

What follows is how it would have gone down; comments as always are welcome.

Uncle Hyena

The final loose end was the necromancer's horse, which had been quietly and deliberately smashing his former master into paste with its left fore hoof while we were treating our wounded. I had deliberately positioned myself so that I could watch it while Chalice did her embroidery on my various wounds.

It was an amazing thing, really, as much a work of mundane craft as of magic. Its long bones had been plated in bronze, and its joints replaced with heavy bronze hinges; its face was a bronze mask with a decidedly draconic caste, and its eyes glowed red with magical fire captured in crystal. The saddle seemed to be built into the creature's back, and there seemed to be some kind of container inside its ribcage. A necromancer had brought the horse back to life, but some metalsmith had put a great deal of time, effort, and craft into making it what it was. I wondered which influence was stronger.

When Chalice had finished her ministrations, I rose and walked to within a few paces of the horse; those burning red eyes turned to focus on me, and I noticed with interest that the faceplate allowed the horse to look straight ahead with both eyes, predator style. I dug through my cranial detritus for the ability to speak mind to mind that I knew was there, even though I was still extremely inexperienced at it. I activated the spell.

"Greetings, brother horse," I said. "I am called Quill."

"I have several names," the horse replied, "And I like none of them."

"That seems to me a sad thing," I offered.

"It does not make me happy," the horse said. "But it has never seemed that my happiness was anyone's concern."

I nodded. "I need to deal with you, somehow. I can not just set you free; you will be hunted down, and either destroyed or enslaved by another necromancer. Or I could free your spirit to the Void."

The horse's head drooped. "I do not like those options."

"What do you WANT, then?"

The horse's head came up, and those deliberately hellish eyes looked into mine. "There are four things that are thought to be of great value to my people: To eat well, to mate and raise progeny; to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin; to run freely." The horse raised its head and looked around for a moment, then continued. "I no longer eat; I am gelded. I have no skin, but I still feel the sun, and I can run as no horse has ever run before. I would keep what I have."

I smiled; I could work with that. "That may be possible. Will you agree to serve me, and be my friend?"

The horse looked over the carnage of the recent ambush, and watched for a moment as my companions made ready to continue marching. "You were last to receive healing. Why?"

I shrugged. "Because it is the right way to do things."

Once again the burning eyes looked right at me. "I will serve you."

I stepped forward to touch his head. "I accept your service, and swear that you will always be treated with justice and affection." I gathered his reins, and led him toward where the others were waiting. "Now, we just need to find you a name."

11/25/2004
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