A fox bolted from hiding and ran in fear with its tail between its legs and ears laid back on its head. It paused in its flight just once, to look back at the charging horse. The black robed rider turned his gaze on the terrified fox, pointed a bony figure in the animal’s direction and struck it dead where it stood as thunder rumbled across the land and lightening cracked from the clouds. In an instant the animal was devoured by buzzing flies and writhing maggots.
The air grew cold as the rider galloped up to the lone warrior and everywhere the black rider passed, fresh new spring turned to cold, barren winter.
As the rider drew up on his reins, the black horse reared, front hooves flailing briefly before stomping back to the earth, then it cantered angrily back and forth as steam issued from its flared nostrils. Its rider pointed a bony finger at the warrior, its skeletal hand snaking from beneath its black decaying robes.
A wave of fatigue washed over the warrior, his shoulders slumped and his head sagged, his long red hair fell over his chest as his arms suddenly felt tired and leaden, the tip of his sword nearly touching the ground. His chest began to constrict and it felt as if his airways were being choked off.
With a Herculean effort, the warrior shook the sudden lethargy, taking in air with great gulps. He picked his head up and squared his shoulders, raising the sword before him. The warrior laughed; the sound gave him strength as it rolled over the rider and its mount in waves. ”I will not go willingly!” the warrior cried defiantly, finding hope in the strength of his voice, causing the black horse to canter about nervously in tight circles.
The robed horseman drew a black sword from beneath its foul robes as the crows circled overhead, cawing as they soared, and a heavy snow began to fall. ”Long have you flirted with me,” the black robed figure responded in a hissing voice, circling behind the warrior. Chills ran down the warrior’s spine and the hairs at the back of his neck stood as the figure stalked around him, hissing angrily. ”You have been running into my arms your whole miserable life! Only to evade my grasp in the end!” the figure taunted, reining its foul mount before the warrior once again.
Suddenly without warning, the horse lunged at the warrior, its iron shod hooves flashed before the warriors face, its foul stench almost overwhelming the warrior's senses. Instinct fueling his actions, the warrior ducked below the horse's flailing hooves and stepped into the beast's charge. His silver sword flashed out from right to left, making solid contact with the animal's exposed chest, parting flesh and cutting through bone. As he pushed the blade through the horse's ruined ribs. the warrior felt a spray of blood and a whoosh of foul air as the sword punctured a lung. He then yanked his sword from the horse’s chest and moved to his right so as not to be pinned beneath the dying animal.
An iron shod hoof glanced off the warriors upraised shield hard enough to shatter the wood, sending bolts of pain up the warriors left arm. He cast off the ruined buckler, gripped his sword and turned to face the black robed figure who now stood behind the fallen horse. The animal’s chest heaved and blood pumped from its mortal wound before it shuddered spasmodically and died. A crow landed atop the carcass and cawed once before taking to the air again; neither crows nor flies would feast on this foul corpse.
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