• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 02
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Long ago, in human terms, a vast army of warrior horsemen set forth from the steppes that had birthed them. This savage and irresistible force, more so than anything the earth had ever witnessed, swept across the known world, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Driven on by their leader, a ferocious hulk of wolfskin and gleaming silver, they paused only to feed and briefly rest themselves and their steeds before continuing their charge towards an unknown horizon. To conquer, strip bare and move forward was all they knew or cared for until finally and literally they ran out of lands to ravage. As the earth beneath them tapered away the gargantuan horde found itself on the threshold of a seemingly boundless expanse of water, a vision beyond all experience. Lined up on the shore in front of this incomprehensible barrier, all movement stilled save for the breathing and the heart-beating of men and beasts. Then, breaking the seal of this frozen time, the leader eased his mount forward and thrust his sword tip toward the sea. At once, an earth-rending cry of defiance broke forth from the massed ranks behind him. Spurs dug into reluctant horseflesh and the great mass of cavalry charged into the ocean. Somehow, by sheer force of will, the warriors urged their steeds into and then atop the onrushing waves. Mile after mile they rode, hooves skimming across the surf until, eventually and inevitably, belief faltered and gravity reasserted itself…



In the darkest depths of the ocean dwell creatures strange enough to elude the imagination. Creatures like myself. It has been that way for eons. Way beyond the reach of sunlight my forebears and their neighbours were free to take on all manner of bizarre forms and abilities without the constraint of aesthetics. And in such a vast and constant habitat they roamed free from interference through the ages, oblivious to the events that caused periodic mass extinctions of light-dependent fauna. Time has little meaning down here. There are no units to mark how long I have been alive or when I last came across another creature of any kind let alone one of my own species. Though, ironically, it would be almost impossible to differentiate. This is evolution’s Comedy Store and in one of its best jokes my ancestors evolved to shape-shift and assume the guise of any other animal they encounter. So, given what we’ve got swimming around down here, it’s probably fortunate life is pretty solitary. However, I do remember the last time I changed and hence know what I look like now. It’s not something you’d forget easily. The water churned and frothed as though the very fabric of the sea was being torn apart, and through this maelstrom a host of other-worldly creatures plunged to their doom. Their limbs thrashed as the pressure tightened its grip and their lungs filled with water. And as they sank past the face of one of these beasts loomed in front of mine…