Home of Sword and Soul
Kadira clung tight to her horse's neck as it bounded across the undulating ground to the woods ahead. The hill beast ran parallel to them each footfall causing the ground to ripple like water disturbed by a giant stone. She marveled at how the steed kept upright despite the vicious jarring. Others were not as lucky. Her cohorts tumbled from their horses, some killed by the fall, others when hundreds of pounds of horseflesh collapsed upon them. She searched for Omari and found him riding ahead of her. His mount stumbled about, fighting to keep its footing on the quaking earth. Kadira looked back from where they came. The antelope-men were there, following the fleeing interlopers at a safe distance. A few mercenaries fled in their direction, obviously more willing to take their chances against the horde than the stampeding monstrosity. They were met with spears and death.
Omari's horse fell. Omari leaped clear then struck the ground hard. The horse fell awkwardly, thrashing about for a moment before lying still. Kadira guided her horse toward Omari.
"Omari!" she shouted.
He stumbled around just in time to reach out. Kadira grabbed him then lifting him onto the back of the horse. The beast grunted in protest but continued running, the extra weight having no effect on its speed.
"Thank you," Omari gasped. "What kind of horse is this?"
"A damn good one," Kadira said. Her attention was elsewhere. The hill beast was angling toward them. There was no way they could outrun it, if only because of its ground chewing strides. It was then she noticed that the Kashites were gone.
"Damn them to the Cleave," she shouted. "The Kashites have escaped!"
"No they haven't," Omari replied. "Look!"
He pointed toward the beast. The Kashites stood in its path, the acolytes standing on either side of Sebe. The priest held the piece of the Creator's ax over his head.
"It won't work," she whispered.
She watched a few more minutes then the beast shuddered. It uttered a defeaning roar as it continued to advance. A moment later it shuddered again. This time it stopped then rose onto it hind legs. It roared again; Kadira thought she heard a hit of pain it its protest.
It shuddered again. This time it froze, locked on two legs. Sebe and his acolytes mounted their horses. This time she heard Sebe's voice.
"Die!" he shouted.
A part of the beast head cracked then broke off. It tumbled down the body and crashed into the ground. The Kashites galloped away as the beast broke apart, it's body becoming an avalanche of stone and blood. The morbid flow ceased far from them. When the Kashites reached Kadira and Omari their faces were graced with confident smiles.
"The challenge has passed," Sebe said. "We can proceed to our destination."
"What about the..."
Sebe gestured over her shoulder. Kadira turned to see that the antelope men were gone. Most of her cohorts were either dead or severely wounded. Only she and Omari seemed capable of continuing on.
"Their share will be split among the living," Sebe said. "Come, we must reach our destination before nightfall."
The Kashites rode toward the rubble that was once a beast. Kadira hesitated.
"What are waiting on?" Omari said. "Let's follow them."
"I don't know, Omari," Kadira said.
Omari jumped from her horse and secured another from one of their hapless comrades.
"I've been through too much shit to go home empty handed," he snarled.
He rode after the Kashites. Kadira watched him for a minute before rubbing her horse's neck.
"So what do you think, warhorse? Should we follow?"
The horse grunted and followed Omari.
"Look likes this horse is braver than me." Kadira shrugged and let the horse have its way.