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The Horse and His Rider

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  • The Horse and His Rider

    Travel in Creation is slow and often unreliable. Barring incredible forms of sorcery and godly (or demonic!) power, your fastest transport was either your own 2 feet, or a horse. If you're lucky, you get to have a river to travel upon, but that is not most places in Creation. Thus, all things connecting ordinary people... whether it's messages, deliveries of precious medicine, or simply a midwife travelling to a remote location for a patient.

    And sometimes they fail. This is Creation, after all. Tainted water, rockslides, destroyed roads, avalanches, harsh weather, bandits, marauding Fair Folk, and all other things. And despite their multitude of flaws, never let it be said the Will and Determination of mortals burn any weaker than that of the demons, gods, or more.

    Picture this: A courier, a messenger, or whatnot is on the way. His breath mists out in front of him in the cool night air. His eyes wide, straining to see in the dark moonlight. His horse whinnies, but they charge forward through the night. They must not stop. They cannot stop. They shall not stop. Lives depend on their mission. And yet, stop they did, the myraid dangers of the road stopping their mission, and despite the rider's own broken body, the will to complete his mission burns on. He stuffs the message, the box, the whatever, into the horse's own saddle. And shouts at it to run! The horse continues on. It may not be a man, but it has a will of its own. It will not fail its friends, whatever they want. And then the horse dies. A broken leg. Wolves. Fae. Bandits, seeking a valuable ride animal. It gets lost in the wastes, and dies later on of starvation, its mission still on its back, to be found amongst its bones.

    This would normally be the end. But in Creation, the words 'I am not yet done', can have powerful effects, even after death. And so sometimes, when someone is travelling in great haste on urgent business during the night, they meet someone else on the road. Sometimes just a horse, dark coat black as night, hoof beats resembling those of funeral drums. Sometimes it is a rider, covered in black armour or black cloth, showing no skin, save for the ghost-fire in his eyes. Either way, it is the same. Help is offered, though no words pass. And if they were to refuse... well, there have been no stories of refusal. They are carried on, and they move. Faster and faster, the wind rushing past their faces, as if they were moving at speeds no mortal man should go to. The realm of the living falls away, and they fall into a stupor. Whether it is due to the steady rhythm and the darkness, or due to some arcane chicanery, they see strange shapes. Towering mountains of ragged behemoths. Limbs reaching out from the ground, bony and white. Spectres, floating through the sky. Either way the darkness makes the passage of time difficult to gauge, and they find themselves in front of their destination, often far faster than they should have travelled. And then, their strange helpers disappear into the moonlight, fading into the dark. People have travelled through distances that would have taken an entire week in a single night.

    The requirements for the Horse and His Rider to manifest are:
    • The traveller is alone
    • The traveller is in an isolated area
    • The traveller is in a dark area, whether woods or in the night
    • The traveller is on urgent business, especially when lives are on the line
    The Horse and Rider carry the traveller using a ghostly version of the Portal charm, letting them cross incredibly dangerous and far off distances in nearly an instant. They have limits, however. They can only manifest in darkness and death-aspected areas where no on is observing, and are blocked off by anti-spirit and anti-scrying wards, and if there is no dark area, they will use whatever means necessary, from sewers, to even in one case appearing in a basement . The Horse riders themselves have different preferences for different types of travellers. Some prefer to help healers, while others have a liking for couriers carrying important official news. And sometimes, they appear to cut down those who remind them of those who kill them, ranging from Fair Folk, to bandits, to digging wells.

    All is not well, though, as some ghosts have taken advantage of the stories of helpful riders in the night, and have taken to kidnapping travellers, pretending to be a Horse and His Rider, and carrying them into the underworld to be devoured. This has made the ghosts extremely angry; angry enough to hammer whichever ghost is doing this into soulsteel. The Underworld is large though, and their talents lie in speed and travel, not investigation. Help from a Necromancer, or perhaps an Abyssal Exalt, would make them rather grateful, leading to the helper gaining the allegiance of several dozen ghostly horsemen capable of appearing in any dark place and moving faster than any mortal.

    Necromancers hire these ghosts as scouts, as messengers, or as calvary. Often keeping the areas around their sanctums dark for easier access. The speed of the Horse and His Rider is equal to that of an Agatae, give or take the ability to Portal through darkness and graveyards.

    edit:

    OK how the fuck do you add in photos?

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ec/f0/3a/e...6f40c651f7.jpg
    Last edited by Accelerator; 05-07-2021, 02:56 AM.

  • #2
    This has made the ghosts extremely angry; angry enough to hammer whichever ghost is doing this into soulsteel horseshoes
    Fixed that for you, otherwise awesome! (Maybe a legend where if you knowingly pledge your soul and that of your mount to the riders, you can summon their aid, once)
    Last edited by prototype00; 05-07-2021, 03:01 AM.

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    • #3
      It's a pretty neat idea for a bit of folklore, and I like how it comes with some attached plot hooks.

      Where do you get the idea that most places in Creation lack rivers?


      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
      Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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      • #4
        Depending what constitutes a place it goes without saying that most of them don’t have rivers. The ones that do are disproportionally inhabited though.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post
          It's a pretty neat idea for a bit of folklore, and I like how it comes with some attached plot hooks.

          Where do you get the idea that most places in Creation lack rivers?
          Most places obviously have streams, rivers, and such there. But not all places have riverine access, or even access to a system that allows for river transportation and mail transport. In other words, when you gotta transport a message or a precious parcel, you can't use a boat. You gotta do it over land.

          And another thing:

          In more modern days, these guys serve as scouts and guides, in modern airplanes and cars and trucks, and tend to specialize in areas where the lack of infrastructure and support fucks up modern people. Which means that yes, they can go in space.

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