A cataphract

“So, done anything nice lately?”

“Well, just spent a couple of hours introducing the concept of a cataphract — a knight without the ethos — into this fantasy world I tinker with. Ended with this image dribbling into my mind — don’t know who’s doing the describing and who this described person is — and much less who this ancestor is, though the surname is familiar — but hey, this is the kind of thing you end up doing when you start mainlining Tolkien at an early age.”

* * *

Next in rode a man in red, one of the cataphracts. His horse was a vast snorting beast covered in scales of steel that, unnervingly, now and then rasped against each other with a sound like a woman’s whimper.

The rider himself was covered in steel scale from his knees to his neck; a bright red tabard with a black sunburst design on it was draped over his right shoulder, leaving his left sword-arm free. His feet were encased in boots of steel plate that were embossed to resemble scales with vines crawling over them. The same theme continued in his helmet, which cradled his head in a likeness of vines crawling over a skull, with the man’s eyes blazing from the eye-holes of a hideous death’s head mask under a plume red like a gout of blood.

The mere fact he was unarmed removed none of the threat of his presence — here was a man that could run over a dozen men with no harm to his horse or peace of mind, and after dismounting crush to death a dozen more with equal ease.

Here was a man that, I guessed, would do just that should the crowd turn against him — for this was a descendant of Dantain Brandling, that warrior admired and feared above all others, who had — if you believe the whispers, and the carefully circumspect songs — after losing his sword in battle torn an arm off an enemy and wielded it as a club until the enemy fled.

I shivered, and thought that must have taken all of three eyeblinks.

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