Chapter Thirteen: My Kingdom for Your Horse

Posted by | August 15, 2009

The great deathcharger galloped from the Scarlet Crusade foaling field with a fury; sparks scattered from its flying hooves and hellfire poured from its mane as it thundered towards Death’s Breach. Behind it, hoots and hollers followed keening laughter, and the sound of a hundred tiny hooves. Clods of dirt, hellfire spittle, and churned mud sprayed from the column as they rushed past Hellvetica and Deathsprocket.

“Woohoo! Go number three!” she shouted, waving her purple pennant as the racers rumbled past.

One of the tauren—they were all tauren—turned, waving as he and his his tiny steed sped by; its short legs blurred like the blades of a fan as it ran as quickly as it could from Havenshire to the Breach. It wasn’t the only small horse; every minotaurian brute death knight had taken themselves a filly or colt from the field. Some black, some brown, and a couple grey, but none taller than the knees of their monstrous bovine riders.

“It’s tradition,” the gnomish ressurectionist explained. “Salanar long ago coughed up his own coccyx when someone arrived with a pony instead of a stallion. Since then people, tauren especially, have been stealing them from the field and delivering them. I don’t know when they started racing them…”

“Come back here, you horse thieving ruffians!” came a shout from the back of the race.

“That might explain it.”

“Hm?” Hellvetica craned her neck to get a look at the source of the shouting.

And swiftly the source came into view.

A tall man astride a lithe and powerful animal, thick muscles working under skin like black buttered leather, hooves that shook the ground with each step. Stallion. Thy name is horse. The great, dark steed that he rode snorted a fog and shook its heavy mane, wide brimming eyes watching from the distance. Then and there, she knew what needed to be done.

“I’ll take that one,” Hellvetica said.

“What?” Deathsprocket choked. “I don’t think he’s going to give it up so easily. That’s Kitrik the Scarlet Stablemaster. We should really get out of his way.”

The gnome started to move away from the impromptu racetrack, back towards the safety of the skeletal archers who continued to darken the sky with their arrows. But Hellvetica did not budge.

“Yo! Mr Sissypants!” she shouted. “Nice horse!”

The man on the horse pointed his sword at her and leveled a glare that could have incinerated her on the spot if it were not for the sub-zero temperatures.

“How dare you address me, vile thing,” he shouted, turning his horse toward her. “I will hoist your head high upon a pike as a warning to others who might stray into my field.”

“Watch this,” Hellvetica said to Deathsprocket while drawing her hand back into a pitcher’s pose.

“Famous last words,” he replied. “I am heading for high ground before your severed head lands at your feet.”

She hucked with all her might. The object in her hand flew straight and true, whistling through the frigid air to stick to the Stablemaster’s metal faceplate with a shtwonk!

The horse faltered a moment as he yanked at the reigns, reaching up he tried to remove it from his helmet. “What is the meaning of this? Abomination to nature! I will split thee from skull to groin—wagh!

With his sword held high overhead, horse galloping forward intent on blood, he totally missed the shadowy man-form hurtling towards him at great velocity. “AGRRRGGUUGH. Want. Shiny!” It shouted as it launched through the air and tackled Kitrik neatly from the back of his horse.

Chuckling to herself, Hellvetica strolled up to the horse and patted its neck. It snorted at her and rolled its eyes at its former master. A man who now lay in a crumpled heap, waving wildly trying to keep the ghoul off of him and away from his—well…

Agh, not my eyes!”

“Don’t worry,” she said, taking the stallion’s reigns in her gauntleted hands. “You won’t need them much longer.”

Where do I plug in my ipod?

The author Helvetica writes the Helvetica Venture and Hellvetica Chronicles for Vox Ex Machina and proudly supports the works of Kyt Dotson, whose writing includes Mill Avenue Vexations (a gothic webserial featuring cab driver Vex Harrow), Black Hat Magick, and Helljammer and invites you to check out the novel, The Specter in the Spectacles by Kyt Dotson.

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