The Mad Missourian, Ben Wheeler returns!
A tome of terror and nightmare beyond your reckoning! IT IS THE NECRONOMICON AESTHETICA . Bound in the twisted and flayed flesh of critics and penned with the blood-tear ink of underpaid and overworked artists, this book will be the end-all and be-all of entertaining fiction analysis. This is not to be an explicit guide to a paint by numbers towards something poor, generic and, Lord forgive me for saying this, derivative. This is a guide to promoting excellence of storytelling, to look at, disagree with or consult like a road map where you already know the way, but you want to make sure.
Read ON brave delver of the darkest literary arts!
Really, Necromancy seems so simple in theory. Theory. If you’ve already sold your soul for a top tier muse and, like fifteen dollars, it’s not like you can lose it again. Really, should have held out for a neon purple chariot pulled by bats and blasting synthwave. Next time. All you have to do is find the hiding spot of the demon’s magic amulet, and, well, that’s for your private time. Now it’s all business.
Indeed, writing is business. It was well worth the selling your soul. It buzzed for a few seconds, then just disappeared. -Yeah shoulda held out for an amazing body too- Anyway, necromantic power was well worth it. It’s not like you wouldn’t lose the soul anyway. Sign your name to a restaurant check? Sorry friend, you just sold your soul for an 11 ounce Sirloin, fries and salad from Outback steakhouse.
The knight’s soul WAS NOT HAPPY to be brought down from heaven to talk to you. Weirdo. You promise him sweet release when he answers his questions. You lay them out to him, and he begins to speak, the bellows under his mouth flaps provide the airy motion required for speech.
“Foolish Necromancer, you wish to know about my horse? Aye! You shall know much about him, and the droppings from my horse’s ass! How shall I count their weight, but I would guess the piles would be about your size and shape.
“But the spirit of my horse is a much different thing. You do not ask about the body of a knight’s steed, as they are all things of flesh. A king has the finest horse at hand. A noble, an equal or lesser, but if it’s an arrogant noble, he will have better. Normally, a Knight’s steed is usually mundane to excellent. If the knight is renowned, it is often connected to the virtue of his horse as much as his own virtue.
“Now, I would be remiss is mentioning that, while horses are the usual animal, I have fought with a viking that rode an immense boar. It had gold-topped tusks and was dressed with leather, I assume from lesser members of his species. It was a most savage fighter and gored many of my companion’s mounts. Elephants are much different from a normal mount, the same with things like whales or even dragons, what you call dinosaurs.
“Of course I know what dinosaurs are, I ride a feathered Allosaurus, I call it in Percival, in Heaven like one of your motorcycles. I was just taking lessons on drifting from Enoch when you called me back down. It’s very hard to drift with dinosaurs.
“The larger the beast, the more it is a weapons platform, siege gun or a transport, rather than a proper mount. It’s a very important distinction. A knight’s steed is a beast or beast-like object that functions as PERSONAL riding mount of a knight for the purpose of adventure or warfare. A princess or fair damsel or wounded best friend Et Cetera does not violate the ‘personal’ part of the mount. An automaton ensorceled into the service of a knight can count as a steed. A vast colony of ants that act as a magic carpet stretches the term much. It is not required that the mount be living or dead, but to be a proper steed, it must be owned by the knight himself, or loyal but stolen from an evil ogre or some such thing.
“In the book you’re writing, the importance is set on the knight’s relationship with the horse (which I shall use unless a distinction is needed). If the knight has no personal relationship with his mount, then it is only a set dressing, and not a character. Since it has no character, no relationship, no soul, its death should not be much mourned. It should have the equivalent of seeing a car accident, you are more worried about the people than the car. (of course I know about cars. How do you think I exercise Percival?) But if there is a personal relationship, character and a proper name, then the death can have meaning and poignancy. It must be built up over time and familiarity, preferably no fewer than three incidents.
“Do not have the horse do something once and then die in the next appearance. If the horse is disobedient, and then dies, it’s not much of a payoff. If the horse is disobedient, has many chapters and references over the book, and then the two gain each other’s respect, THAT is a death worth reading or mourning over. The best death for a steed is a heroic sacrifice, taking the blow for the hero after fighting with him in the final fight. Even better if the horse survives for another book, or is found, barely alive and capable of being nursed back to health.
“Of course, it doesn’t really matter WHAT it is for those things. What matters is how it’s treated, as I’m sure you inferred or I directly said I can’t remember. It’s very dependent on the thrust of the story. A story about the knight’s deeds doesn’t need a focus on the steed. How many people can name King Arthur’s knight’s steeds? But I bet you remember the companion lion or the massive snake or the Questing Beast. If it doesn’t dive into the knight’s mind, if there is no modern character arc, then there is no need for a deep connection for a horse.
“However, if there is a deep dive into the minds of the knight as they are going off on their heroic deeds, then making their steed a character in their own right. Honestly, T.H. White’s Once and Future King missed out on a memorable horse, but it really wasn’t needed. If the knight errant, say, goes out and has a campfire in a cold autumn night, it is the perfect opportunity for the horse to sidle up and warm him up. A fight with a bandit? Have the horse kick a bandito.
“And of course, this is just more characterization. I assume you know your craft enough to handle it. Like your weak, womanly hands can handle the horses droppings, necromancer. Speaking of which, while you want to mention the care and feeding of the beast, you do not want to go into detail. Leave that for ‘Princess Marbles Detective Horse’ or some such nonsense. Then you can go on for hours and hours about how to take care of horses, even war horses, if you want, and no one in your target demographic will mind. I’ll point out that every little girl in heaven has a pony. Just saying.
“Because that’s your level of writing, Necromancer. I’m sure you will write the best ‘Princess Marbles Detective Horse’ books the world has ever seen. You could even make the thing snarky when it talks. ‘At least she isn’t as heavy as Lancelot.’ ‘I don’t like braids, I’m more of a pony-tail horse.’ or my favorite: ‘dye my hair and I’ll put a hoof through your I.Q. holster, Marbles.’ Hilarious!
“That does bring up a good point, you should armor the steed. It should be able to go into war with the knight in question. These are not draft horses or carriage horses. These are proud warhorses. If the war-horse lacks barding and other armors, there should be a reason. While you don’t look like the type of necromancer to be accurate, you should at least nod towards the proper direction so you don’t look more like an idiot. Even the boar I mentioned earlier wore the lessers of its kind to thicken its hide. It also had a spikey head plate. Little touches like that can do wonders for a villainous steed.
“Well, that’s all I got for it. Kill me again so I can go back to learning how to drift with my Allosaurus who is cooler than you’ll ever be. I’m thinking then I’m gonna go back and get drinks with my boys and spend a hundred years singing praises to God. Maybe ask an angel to show up and declare your assuredly numerous sexual deviancies, shames and diseases.”
Part 1 of the Knight Steeds series
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