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‘Hoy-at-a-ho! … Hoy-a-ta-ho! …’ The voice echoed across the rooftops. The horse galloping its way across the night sky was clearly not of this world. Nor was the brass-clad young lady riding along on its back. However … well, it’s all very well singing in the moonlight like that, and she had a good voice for it, but she’d just never been able to get the proper … operatic feel for things.
‘That wasn’t bad,’ said the horse.
She sighed, deeply. Her brass outerwear clinked at the motion. ‘I wish I didn’t have to wear this thing.’
‘Listen, it may not be to your taste, but it is traditional.’
‘I’m not cut out to be—‘
‘Nonsense! Come on, one more go — maybe this time it’ll work.’
The girl sighed again. Only a little more sadly.
As the horse galloped along on thin air — and into a rather difficult air current — it had a little too much to keep its mind on to look back just then, but if he were a betting horse, he’d wager there was a sparkle of teardrops in the moonlight behind him.
‘It’s no good. I may as well pack it in,’ she said, trying to adjust the traditional brasswear. ‘Woooah—‘ — only some quick emergency manoeuvres by a flying horse of long experience stopped her from falling off — ‘—And I can’t ride worth a damn,’ she added as she got her grip on the reins again.
‘Your singing’s really coming along,’ said the horse gamely. ‘And I think—‘
‘And my complexion’s all wrong,’ she continued, oblivious. ‘I can’t get the iron and storm into my gaze. Who’s going to want a Valkyrie who looks like I do.’
The horse didn’t comment. For one thing, he could see that the girl on his back was obviously feeling extremely low, and for another—
‘It’s not as if this thing even fits,’ she said dejectedly.
He stayed quiet. Sometimes you can see that anything you can say is probably going to be the wrong thing at the wrong time.
‘You may as well take us down. Right over there.’
The horse peered. Looked like a bar. Bright neon lights flashing over it. He gave a sort of shrug.
‘Hey, watch it!’
‘Sorry. Okay … You’re the boss …’ He started his descent. For the record, he didn’t think this was a very good idea …
[Next –> Part 2: A Need for Mead.]