Introducing the Madriel

I know I promised you something about demons or marriages, but my next post is not quite done. It’s been a busy week, what with getting my first book ready for publication and everything. Instead, I thought I’d post this. It’s something I wrote a very long time ago, when I first came up with the idea of knights riding bloodthirsty carnivores.

I’ve given it a light editing, so that it’s not too, too embarrassing, but this is still pretty much how it was written all those years ago.

The sun was high in the sky when they caught us.

A great shaking of the earth was the first sign of their approach. The wind that came before them carried a vast cloud of orange dust that billowed over the crest of the nearby hills, and down the slope towards us. Within the dry sun scent of it, another was hinted; a musky animal metallic smell. Over the vibrations of the earth, sounds trembled; the scrape of metal on metal, sometimes a bestial, guttural noise and the occasional strange hollow voice raised to give an order.

The first beast and its rider crested the hill and halted. Even at a distance, it gave a sense of fearful size. It stood on all fours, its front legs still and powerful, its rear legs half coiled so that its body sloped to the ground. Like its rider, it was encased in armour of a blue grey metal. Its sheathed claws, monstrously huge, splayed out and dug into the dry earth beneath it.

The creature had wide shoulders, made even more immense by the curved plates that covered them, and a powerful neck, which tapered slightly to its wide armoured head. The helmet had a barred slit for the eyes, and a broad metal ridge descending down its tapering face, which ended in an arched metal grill from which the beast’s regular strident breaths erupted. Two great horns protruded from either side of its jaw, starting beneath the eyes and curving down and outwards, beyond the end of its muzzle.

The rider seemed like the beast in human form, with the same massive shoulders and concealing helm. In his left arm was some strange weapon, like a spear thin shield, elongated and curved, and in his right was his lance, which he had levelled so that its point hung a full two strides beyond his steed’s horns. Two shorter lances were attached to the beast’s flanks, behind the rider, their points flattened into wide leaf blades.

The beast gave a nasal growl, and at some unseen signal from its rider, leapt down the hill towards us. More of them appeared on the crest behind, and they did not pause as their lances came down, and their steeds snarled in expectation of the hunt.

We fled, trying to shield our younglings as best we could beneath our carapaced shoulders, but our natural protection was meagre compared to the weight of metal that shielded the beasts pursuing us.