Hello Devout Worshippers and Horrified Newcomers!
I hope you have your heads bowed and your minds untethered from reality. In light of what happened last Saturday on the stream…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Flesh Horse
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
It all began one April afternoon last year, when Arith Winterfell graced us with a story of a dream, a hallway, and a horse made of flesh. Not to be confused with ordinary horses—this was something far more spooky and sinister; dead flesh crawling along the floor, coalescing into the form of a horse. A dream. A vision. An eldritch revelation. (Here is the link to that story: “At the Nexus,” written for the End of the Hallway—the first Flesh Horse story. And the second canon story Arith wrote about The Flesh Horse for Hour of the Wolf “Things Unseen“).
I don’t remember what got us all attached to the idea of the Flesh Horse, but we certainly did, proceeding to mention it in subsequent streams, and the streams after that, until we mentioned it almost every stream. All the while adding to its lore, creating stories about The Flesh Horse, and terrifying the new arrivals with our devotion.
I’ve been talking about making it a prompt, and better yet an April Fools prompt, for a while now, and it’s finally here! It’s time to pour all your admiration and horror into your stories this week.
Now’s the time to write those stories you joked about during the stream, about the Flesh Horse fending off lag goblins, of watching our streams, or flitting in and out of universes to dine on the best of BBQ, roasts, and human sanity.
If you are someone who writes all their stories in the same universe, you could have The Flesh Horse grace your universe—whether as something canon to your world, or an AU. I’d love to read about how your personal characters would react to the character we’ve been collectively discussing and joking about all these months. The Flesh Horse is an eldritch being after all; it might not even appear in the fleshy, horsey form we’ve come to know and love. You’ll just have to make it clear it is The Flesh Horse somehow.
If you find yourself completely at a loss for how to use THE Flesh Horse in your story, you could easily write about a generic horse, or generic horse’s flesh. You could even make the joke we often make on the stream “Aren’t ALL horses’ flesh horses?” in your story. Or you could write about a dead horse, such as one who fell in a battle. Or you could write about a place where horse flesh is considered a delicacy. Perhaps a talking horse gets hurt during a race and tells their jockey “Tis but a flesh wound!”
You could even write about flesh and a horse as separate things, but together in one story, finding some way to connect them. Such as a horse getting disgusted by seeing the flesh of a dead animal on the side of the road. Or a horse bucking off a rider, and the rider saying something like “You cut my flesh, Horse!”
Now, do keep in mind that The Flesh Horse was Arith Winterfell’s original idea, and ultimately belongs to him—our stories are more like fanfiction of his character. If you are concerned with making sure the Flesh Horse is accurate to canon, or simply want to make sure you are being respectful of his character, you can feel free to contact Arith himself.
I do also want to call attention to something The Flesh Horse itself mentioned last Saturday: we do still have guidelines. This prompt very much lends itself to gore, horror, and death, but your stories are still meant to be “safe for work” and will still be disqualified if they break this rule. If you are ever unsure if your story breaks the rules, don’t hesitate to contact me to give it another look.
Also, if you decide to create art of The Flesh Horse, especially this week, tag me!
No challenge for this week. I think this prompt is challenge enough.
Now, go forth, my friends. Run to the edge of the known universe, fall into another. Gaze into the abyss. But don’t be surprised when gazes back. Or tries to eat your fingers.
—Kaylie & Paul
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By the cartographers notebook
The scent of sweet lemonade mixed with the stench of rotting flesh spread over the patio. The summer resort was bathed in a ray of brilliant sunshine and a soft breeze made its way through the mix of swimsuits and Hawaii shirts.
Death was sitting in the shade, his “Sunshine resort”, cap slightly tilted to shield his empty eyesockets while writing in his notebook.
It’s not that Death hadn’t wanted a vacation. Working nonstop for 10.000 years straight took a strain on the body, even if that body turns out to be that of an immortal celestial.
No, Death had wanted a vacation. It was only after they had arrived that Death realized a very important detail.
That detail is that a giant rotting horse doesn’t make a good roommate.
The beast had been on Deaths back about the vacation for a couple of millenniums. “What are we gonna wear?”, “When are we going”, and “Does this saddle make me seem too pretentious”, had been drilled into Death’s head, much like one of those nails that had hung up Death’s nephew.
Margot, the mount of Death, had insisted they went to this, “resort”. Being who Death was, they could attend in complete secrecy from the mortal inhabitants. To everyone else, they looked like your usual tourist and his trusty mount.
The problem arose when “the trusty mount”, had insisted on going for a swim. In the pool.
What had followed had been a chaotic attempt of explaining to the staff of the resort why a horse had decided to go for a swim in the basin, and subsequent wrestling with Margot to get them out of the pool.
So now Death was sitting, covered from top to toe in rotten horseflesh, stinking of the cheap resort perfume, lemonade in hand, and a stupid promotional cap on his bony head.
First day of the vacation.
“This is going to be a long holiday, isn’t it?”
I’m making $80 for every hr. to finish some internet providers from home. I absolutely never thought it would try and be reachable anyway. My comrade mate got 13,000 US dollars just in about a month effectively doing this best task and furthermore she persuaded me to profit. Look at additional subtleties going to
this site.. http://www.Payathome7.com
Meat and Greet
Beth shook her head disapprovingly. “Dad, this is by far the worst idea you’ve ever had.” she said.
Her father looked genuinely surprised. “Why’s that?”
A tricky question; How does one go about explaining that placing a life-size effigy of a horse made from offcuts of meat in the middle of a public pavement is a bad idea without insulting the intelligence of one’s conversation partner? After careful consideration, Beth went with: “Because you want to attract business to the shop, not drive it away.”
It was eight on a clear, May morning. Ordinarily the pavements that flanked the high street would have had an even share of pedestrians, but today there was a noticeable lack of footfall in front of the Farrier Family Butcher Shop.
“Nonsense,” said Beth’s father, slapping the beast’s flank. Beth flinched from the resulting spray of meat juice. “This is peak viral marketing. Billy thinks it’s a great idea!”
Through the shop window, Beth could see her older brother mincing beef behind the counter. He looked up at her, and then sheepishly away.
“Now,” said Beth’s father, pulling his phone out from under his apron, “If you wouldn’t mind just-“
“I am not sitting on the meat horse!” Beth growled. Her father pocketed his phone, grumbling that her sister would have done it. He was probably right, seeing has how the horse would have been the brains of that pairing.
From Beth’s left came an awful sound, like a cat coughing up hairballs laced with gravel. Mr. Bentley the newsagent was vomiting loudly on his own doorstep. It was possible that this was unrelated to the presence of the equine meatstrocity, but unlikely.
Beth looked at her father meaningfully. Her father looked back at her, then at Mr. Bentley, and then at the horse. “Maybe I should have made it smaller.”
Beth rolled her eyes. “I’m going to be late for school,” she said and stalked off up the street, batting angrily at the gathering flies.
“Don’t worry,” her father called after her. “They’ll lose interest once it dries out.”
Mr. Bentley vomited again.
A Horse With no Name
The sky is dark with clouds emitting an eerie glow, not that it is ever any different from that around here, dust and sand are everywhere, unpolished, rusted, and distorted metal surfaces littering the landscape. My clothes are sealed like a prison while I walk this poisonous wasteland in search of anything with the slightest value, some call me stupid but I prefer the term brave.
A strong wind blows on my back as I walk, as if trying to draw me farther into the wastelands. Coincidentally, the more I walk today, the less I see any semblance of loot, maybe I will go just a bit deeper.
Thunder is striking, seems like a storm is approaching and I should find some cover soon.
Is that… a dead body? What is it doing here and how is it still perfectly preserved outside with all the radiation? It should be burnt like charcoal!
The storm is intensifying, and so is my visibility wearing this stupid mask! I’ll try turning around and going all the way back, I hope I find somewhere to hide from this storm and whoever killed that person so brutally.
Shit, It’s getting close, my Geiger counter is beeping rhythmically and I hear thumping sounds in the distance, but I have to keep my calm and endure
I think I’ll die today… the storm is here, my counter is beeping nonstop and I can barely see a couple of meters ahead. Was any of this Worth it?
More blood and fresh corpses lined with a ghostly green glow, but no burns… and what the hell is that clopping sound?
From the fog of radioactive, I can see a faint silhouette and my counter is going insane, I can feel my skin burn.
It is here now, an unthinkable horse-like creature made out of tens of screaming corpses with glowing green eyes, I’m armed and I won’t go down without a fight!
I have joined them now… so much… pain. I feel I’m melting into its soul… please get me out of this hell!
On the hunt
It’s been days now. We are still on the hunt. We found the girl… but she has got her mind twisted in wicked ways. She only talks about a horse, made out of flesh, moving, shaping, speaking to her. If you ask me, it’s all nonsense. The cold must have gotten to her, but our commander thinks her gibberish makes some sense, that’s why we hunt this mystical horse. I will keep you updated.
For eternity in Love with you,
Two weeks ago I wrote to you. I promised to keep you updated, but there isn’t much to update. The commander thinks we are getting close. I think so too. At first, I didn’t believe the girl and I didn’t think this Flesh Horse exists. “Flesh Horse”, that’s what we call it. Sometimes… sometimes I hear it in my dreams. It scares me, but at the same time, I want to know what it says. It’s so quiet. But it gets louder every day. Soon I will understand it. Wish me luck.
With love and a neverending desire for you,
It’s the middle of the night. I can finally understand what it says. It calls me. It means no harm. It begs for me to come visit it. It’s very lonely. It just needs someone to talk. I will visit it. It wants to change me, change us, change the world for the better. Our love, made possible. No more secret meetings in the night. It promised me. WE will be together, forever. I will go now. We will meet soon, I know it.
Hoping for a future with you, forever,
This is Derrick. Yesterday we found Dan. He was out there, laying in the snow. Parts of him were missing. We will return with the body in a few weeks. Anne, I am so sorry. If I can do anything for you, just give the word.
The WHAT?! (Reality Itself)
Death barged into Life’s domain loudly, the ‘waterfall’ of bones and decay that gave it form flowed very quickly, visualizing its anger.
“Explain? Explain what?” Life asked, startled by the entrance, and confused by the anger.
“That ABOMINATION is creating chaos everywhere!
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“How could you not?”
Life shrugged. “I have created a lot of life. It’s easy to lose track of these things.”
Death laughed. “Is it easy to forget the amalgamation of flesh running around defying all laws of reality? We are gods, we have standards. You didn’t even give the damn thing bones, and yet it somehow manages a coherent shape.
Now it was Life’s turn to laugh. “I have created no such thing. I would certainly remember creating it if I had.”
“Don’t lie to me.” Death said, moving towards Life threateningly. “We both know we are the only gods capable of creating sentient life, and I didn’t create that…that.. FLESH HORSE!”
There was a pause, as if reality itself had to comprehend Death’s accusation.
“Why would I create something like that?” Life asked. “It sounds like something Fear would have requested from you.”
“I don’t know, to see if you could? Sheer boredom? It’s saving some people from certain death, so maybe just to insult me. No matter the reason, you need to fix it. Now.”
Life turned away from Death, dismissing the demands. “I didn’t create it, so I have no attachment. You can dispose of it. That’s kind of your thing anyway.”
“That’s the problem.” Death said. “I can’t die. It’s barely ‘alive’ to begin with. You need to un-create it.”
“What makes you think I can even do that?”
Suddenly, Time appeared in between Life and Death, interrupting Death’s rebuttal.
“Life, go un-create it. It will work.” Time said. Life silently nodded and left.
As soon as Life had gone, Time turned to Death.
“What?” Death asked.
Time sighed. “Be more thorough in the future. That thing is your fault.”
Jynn swore that if she had to remain in this land for another minute, she would vomit all over it.
Nothing made sense here. Nothing had could calm Jynn’s nerves when even the air seemed to wriggle.
So many things were writhing in Jynn’s vision that she nearly believed herself to be hallucinating. But her other senses backed up what her eyes told her: the land was moving.
Desperately trying to hold back the motion sickness, Jynn knelt down, doing what she could to attain a point of meditation despite the world undulating around her. The violet firmament she knelt on even seemed to breathe. Jynn had to collect herself.
Before she could even achieve the meditative headspace, the ground rumbled and bubbled, as if it were boiling. Ahead of her emerged a beast, as if it had been inside the earth the entire time and merely had to shed its disguise. Jynn tried to look at it, but her brain refused to categorize what she was seeing.
It had the shape of the most slender racehorse, and yet it possessed silky wings as graceful as a butterfly. The face remained hidden behind a veil, and it was the same indigo hue of the land around it.
All of these were simple enough to comprehend, but no part of the creature was ever still. Every part of it wriggled and writhed in such ways that added to her growing nausea, and yet she could not look away.
Or she wasn’t allowed to…
Jynn now comprehended who she stood before, but no legend could accurately capture this monstrosity. What stood before her was both horse and horseman, and yet reflected the likeness of a dragon. With every blink, it seemed to shift and transform between the three, sometimes even appearing to hold swords or scales.
And for the first time, Jynn’s senses and comprehension had to decide which was lying.
Though she could not see its mouth move, a voice smooth as silk, but powerful as thunder, rang through her entire body, “I wonder why you aren’t dead.”
A Gift Horse (Chronicles of The Dragon)
The universe is unfathomably huge to the minds of mortals, and seemingly always expanding. Yet so few are able to grasp that their own reality is but a small bubble in a far greater ocean. Bumping among other realities, other possibilities budding off. Entities small and large existing in the space between. Some that can barely be said to exist. Others that feed on those budding realities. Growing stronger on the pure possibility.
Some becoming what these mortals call gods.
Others of us, are wiser.
Some of us, are older.
We seek not to create, or to be worshiped. But to seek knowledge, true answers, and things that cannot be taken. To guide those that seek wisdom.
For a price.
Mortal souls are such a curiosity. So full of potential and possibilities. So full of desires.
Wishes to be granted.
They don’t realize how bound they are. Bound to “reality”, to “rules”, when they could be bound to nothing but their own will.
Jonathan poked his head into the stable, before walking further into the dark building. He squinted at the many empty stalls as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he took a step back. Then he blinked, and leaned forward, not sure he was seeing what he thought he was.
He walked back out and called, “Hey! Mira? What’s up with this weird flayed horse lookin’ thing? It’s giving me weird vibes! Reminds of the fuckin’ meat dragon Keres made!”
“Oh! That’s Imogene’s!” Mira called back from across the grounds. “She wanted a horse for her…300th birthday? But there weren’t any where we lived at the time so I made her one! You can feed it if you want! There should be a fridge with snacks in it!”
“’Flayed horse thing?’” Jostica asked, setting her tea down.
They truly don’t understand the vastness of what lays beyond. Their puny minds would reel at the mere thought of it, sending them into gibbering insanity, while wetting their appetite for knowledge and understan-
By: Sam C. [TW: disturbing imagery]
This was it. It would be Brilliant! Stronger than anything else, it would be the ultimate beast of burden!
The storm approached. The final stitches made. It would all happen tonight. The storm clouds coagulated. Lightning struck.
“IT’S NOT ALIVE!?” He screeched in fury.
He kicked the wall. Why did these things never work? The ultimate in farmyard utility, and it just wouldn’t wake up! Fine! He’d try again. He would get it right, and when he did, he would be adored. Worshipped. He would be God.
“Horse draft #56,” he sighed to himself. He swore he’d never give up. That man was dead and buried. If this didn’t work, he swore he’d never do anything ever again.
The storm approached. The final stitches sloppily thrown on. The clouds drifted along. Thunder rolled in the background.
“It’s… not alive…” He thought dejectedly. He turned on his heels, went over to the wall, and slid down, crying into his arms. He didn’t hear the trembling of the creation.
It.. it was alive! And it was horrible. Hundreds of muscles tied together in a disorderly heap, it was little more than a pile of flesh. LIVING flesh.
He looked up at his abomination. He screamed and dashed out the door. That was his worst mistake. The innate urge to run piqued within the beast, and it took flight.
He ran in futility, forgetting all that he had made it for. It was faster, cutting him off at every turn. He tried and he tried, but no matter where he went, the horse was there.
He kicked and screamed as it ate at him, muscle by muscle he was consumed and became part of the stallion. It ran, looking for more grazing. It was hungry, after all. And humans were what it craved.
Such as it ate, it grew. It ate more, entire dimensions. It grazed on planets and nebulas, eating entire universes as it grew in power.
Eventually, it was taken in by a kindly group of storytellers, where it was worshipped, loved, and given the only thing it hadn’t: a home.
Raagi vs The Rotting Mirage(Lost Forest chronicles)
“Have ever I told you the story of Raagi and his battle with The Rotting Mirage, or as you humans may know it as the flesh horse?” The toll keeper asked.
’Tis was a rare and beautiful night for the two, the moon illuminating beautifully, the spirits were in a good mood, a perfect night to enjoy the embrace of the fire.
“ Raagi the god of war …fought a flesh horse.” Elyn chuckled.
The Toll keeper nodded, this was one of his favorite tales to share, especially on nights like this. Although Raagi himself begged to differ.
“ Why yes, it’s quite a tale indeed.” Toll keeper replied, taking off his owl mask, showing his pleasing silver eyes.
“Once when the world was still new, a young man with fiery red hair, wearing the fur of the forest’s most gruesome predators, the man known as Raagi was taking a stroll in his favorite forest.
For you see Raagi after a nice long hunt was in a splendid mood, good food and ale to boot. But now he was feeling something a bit sweet, maybe a mixture of strawberries and blueberries drizzled with honey.
The combination always brought a smile to Raagi face.
Now in this forest there was a bush that grows the most delicious of fruits, and it was a beautiful sight to look out, a edible rainbow.
However, something was different, something terribly wrong had happened. Instead of gorgeous colors and green fields, surrounded by tall trees, Raagi’s favorite spot was gone.
No instead it was replaced with a gray and barren landscape. The main culprit was right in front him, a giant horse made of oozing decomposed flesh. The foul creature let out a guttural moan as it got ready to attack.
It was an epic battle indeed, Raagi furiously swinging his axed, the horse using its powerful legs and hooves to bruise the young god
Then it was over and for now Raagi was triumphant.” The toll keeper finished-enjoying the sight in front of him.
by Lee Strangely
He was only just over a year old. The unicorn’s body was still so, so small. His horn little more than a conical nub… Far too young to see such horrible things.
The unicorn lay there, helpless, quietly crying in fear and pain as the creature’s hoof slowly pressed harder on his horn. Cracks grew along it like branches, the sound so sickeningly loud that the young unicorn heard it from where he stood.
The thing that stood over the unicorn clearly had hooves, even some teeth poking out…but those were the only features he could clearly see. The rest remained unseen underneath a tattered, once-white cloth that clung to its vaguely equine form like wet leaves, hanging down like a cloak. Three ragged, black birds sat along back. Two perched close to the neck, one atop its head.
“Let him go!” the young unicorn shouted.
The two birds in the back turned to him.
Each one seemingly continued the other, cawing, “Turn back to the field…”
“Go, while you still might…”
“…slumber in peace…”
He began to trot into the water, “Leave him be.”
“I-I’m not a child!” he shouted with as much conviction as he could muster.
“…you?” the two crows jeered.
“…I … I-I… I’m a stallion!”
“Yes, a big powerful stallion!”
The two crows looked at one another.
“A stallion?” the third muttered in a deep rumble, “how odd… You don’t sound like a stallion.”
The equine creature’s head turned.
Stained cloth. Crimson flesh. A dead white eye peered through. “You don’t look like a stallion… You look like a little lying foal… Do you have a name?”
He tried faking assertiveness, “Do YOU?”
“I might’ve… Not one that I remember anymore…”
“W-what are you then? What, do others call you?”
“There is something… A word you Houyhnhnms use… a Nihtmær, I believe…”
Chills crept along the young unicorn’s mane.
“You should’ve listened to the birds’ warning.”
The trembling young unicorn took another step forward, stomping his hoof into the ground, “I’m not, a-a-afraid of you.”
An Unexpected Visit
Nabiki frowned as she read over Derek’s shoulder. “What the heck is a Flesh Horse?”
Derek jumped as soon as he heard her voice. “Don’t do that! When did you get here?”
Nabiki shrugged nonchalantly. “Just now. So, uh, Flesh Horse?”
“It’s, uh, it’s kind of a meme on my writing group stream. Like an, um, an inside joke.”
“So, what is it? Is it a horse covered in flesh? Because, you know what I call those?”
Derek kept looking at Nabiki with apprehension. She had never just appeared in front of him before. He usually invited her to talk to him. It took him a few seconds to realize she asked him a question. “Sorry, ummm, what?”
“I call it a horse, you idiot. All horses have flesh.”
“No, it’s kind of uh, it’s an eldritch being that one of the other writers came up with. Like a pile of rotting horse meat that assembled itself back into a horse.”
“Gross!” Nabiki wrinkled her nose. “So, uh, these other writers? Do they also have characters that know about them?”
“What? Umm, no. You’re special that way.”
“So they don’t know that some asshole is making their life terrible for them behind the scenes, huh?”
Derek tried to swallow the lump in his throat as he stared at the short teenage girl. “Is this about, um, is this about your mom dying?”
“You mean is this about you killing my mom for narrative reasons?” Nabiki growled. She glared at Derek for several seconds. “Not today. But I should try to see if I can get back here and brain you with my guitar. But not today.”
That didn’t make Derek feel much better. He could feel a cold sweat along his back and his fingers trembled on his keyboard.
“All this talk about horses, I’m thinking I’m going to go back to my world and see if Ayase will let me ride Sugarbutt for a while. Have fun with your weird writer friends and your rotten flesh horse.” Nabiki sneered and walked back out the door.
Parable of the Cobbler (following “Parable of the Moonlit Lovers”)
By Alexandra (Alexlalpaca)
At yonder town lived a man, Efrén by name and cobbler by trade. He had a son, wife, and a foal most beloved. They lived warm and merry in their estate by the linden grove. Yet, his son would one day kiss the book and leave for a far-off land to face foreign guns, ne’er to return.
After twelve months and a day, Efrén the Cobbler had a son to grieve and a wife and foal most beloved. They lived warm in their estate by the linden grove. But his wife was with child, and one St. Madelene’s morn Efrén took her to the midwife’s house, where woman and child died during labour.
After twelve months and a day, Efrén the Cobbler had a son and a wife to grieve and a horse most beloved. They lived in their estate by the linden grove. But one day the horse disappeared and Efrén found him in the linden grove, bleeding and broken by wolven teeth and claws. For all that he had left, Efrén willed the strength to drag the horse to the wise woman’s house, desperate for aid. But no remedy or prayer could mend those wounds, so the horse perished.
So, with no one by his side, Efrén shut himself in his house. He spent the daytime weeping in his garden o’er graves three, and the nights praying into unconsciousness that the Merciful Will would tell him why it did this to him, ever kneeling, rosary ever clutched.
After twelve months and a day, the Merciful Will sent down an angel with answers.
One night, after he had collapsed, a noise down the stairs awoke Efrén. Humming and the sound of clacking hooves, familiar hooves. He rose to his feet and swiftly ran downstairs, where an equine figure stared with pure black eyes. A protean figure of bare wrought flesh, unnatural, uncanny, sublime, perfect. Their eyes met and Efrén fell to his knees whilst crying tears of joy. Then, it spoke.
“Do not be afraid,”
-Among Horses, Red Hair-
He should never have come.
Never have left the camp, or the safety of the walls. It was nothing but bluster. Bravado. The lack of forethought that lead to being stuck in this hell. Miles away from anyone. Underground in some freakish factory.
Now, he stood with his head half-tilted to not hit the low ceiling in this ancient, yet living factory. Machines wizzed and popped. Steam shot up from who-knows-where and light flickered down endless halls lined with pipes and wires.
A heavy smell of rust filled every corner of this pit.
Within minutes of exploring the endless halls, he was lost.
So he ran. Walls and objects blurring as they went past him. Corner after corner. No reason to be quiet, just escape. Just run.
Until he came upon a single, metal door. Covered in rust and an orange slime.
His heart pounding in his chest he gripped the door. It was wet and warm. One deep breath and push…
Entering a large circular room, a contraption the size of bus with uncountable wires and bits coming off it dominated his vision.
A few steps forward and a siren wailed out. Frozen in panic he watched the contraption begin to open on one side, releasing fluids and a horrific smell. Turning to run he watched the door shut closed, sealed. No escape.
Now he heard it. A gurgling sound. Drops of… something hitting the ground behind him. Smell was overwhelming. Turning he saw what at first resembled a horse. Barely holding itself up but it was red… And dripping. As his eyes focused he saw its body was actually made from bodies…. Bodies of humans! Numerous arms stitched together to form horse legs and different pieces of skulls used to form its horrific visage. It almost seemed to smile at him.
In a moment of sheer terror he ran around the beast to a small desk on the other side of the room. Cowering he thought to himself; “I should never have come.”
Your Story Is In Another Bar
By Taja DaLeen
“You know, there’s been rumors, almost legends boutta strange horse that’s wandering the plains of Ba’al.
And I’m not talkin’ bout wind horses, those are common ’nuff. This’s one with four legs, apparently it used to be a completely normal horse of This World, ‘fore it got cursed.
Or rather, ‘fore that dude got cursed.
It’s said it all started with some landlord or somethin’. Apparently there was this witch among those workin’ for him, and she liked one of his horses in particular, befriendin’ the beast.
Maybe ’twas even a pooka, livin’ there in the guise of a horse, who knows.
Anyway, it’s also said that this landowner was really into that witch, but she ‘dismissed his advances’. Didn’t like him back at all. So to get revenge, he skinned her horse friend.
Prolly would’ve done more to the corpse, but that’s pretty much when the curse hit. She bound his soul to the beast, so he’d hafta walk the world as some weird skinless horse zombie forever.
Or ’til the curse is broken, dunno. Don’t even know if the curse can be broken at all, or if the poor fella really has to live like that ’til we all get swallowed by the sun.”
“This is not what I was inquiring about.”
“What else could you be talkin’ bout? Other than that there’s no story of a flesh horse. Or at least none I’d know ’bout.”
“So you were indeed the wrong person to approach. I apologize.”
“Yeah, yeah… you still gonna pay for my drink?”
“Certainly; a promise is a promise after all.”
Leaving more than enough money on the table, the stranger stood and turned to leave the bar. It seemed he needed to look somewhere else to find those who called him here, into this reality.
He could hear their voices loud and clear. Their belief was strong – strong enough to be magic.
Kind King’s Killed
The Kind King’s kin, trembling and troubled, his tear-dropping fear-encapsulating eyes longed for the Kind King’s protection as he swiftly sailed through the battle-riddled pool of blood and flesh back to the Kind King.
The Kind King’s undaunted face failed to reflect his heart’s rage at the sight of the knight’s pale, blood-splattered face. “What has become of you so that you dare flee war?” The Kind King’s voice was stark with curiosity, but firm in dignity.
“Your Highness, doom is impending. You must flee, Kind King. Flee!” His fright-stricken voice shook the atmosphere, replacing the King’s dignified presence with dread.
“I will not flee from what has made my cousin so. Speak, what is it that you are afraid of?”
“Your Highness, there is a horse of flesh. It is,” the knight’s stuttering paused, “it is a walking abomination that I am unable to describe.”
“Aren’t horses all of flesh? Compose yourself, knight!” The Kind King grew impatient, his tone demanding and domineering, but the King’s order was only disrupted by the fear-infested knight. “Flee King, Flee!” The knight gave one last shout before fleeing from the battlefield, wandering wherever fate may guide him.
The Kind King redirected his focus ahead, beset by the sound that arrived before him. What seemed like the sound of hooves thumping, except it was muffled, and what drowned it was the sounds of flesh and blood accompanied by the sorrowful screams and muttering of alien-like language which all formed a disturbing eldritch cacophony that introduced the dreadful doom.
A horse-like figure that had no skin, and within its body of flesh were the organs alive like a machine naked showing its inner workings. Its face was fleshless, but nor was it a skull. It was more of a statue, marbled, and had the shape of a triangular prism, its mouth full of rotating teeth. Upon its back laid another figure, clad in armor, with the hue of nothingness. There be a cage where the horse’s ribs are, and within it were fallen souls.
“I should’ve fled.”
Revelations in Visceral Majesty (repost from private group)
I was lost. I walked those endless tunnels, prompted by calls to write, for what seemed like countless lifetimes, and I don’t remember ever coming to an end or exit from them. Why did I walk? Why did I write? I do not know, but I think I was always searching. Search I did, but it was not my motion that brought me into the cathedral. Suddenly, I was there.
I didn’t find it.
It found me.
All was dark, but in that darkness I could see. My eyes were useless, but I didn’t need them. Four titanic pillars rose from the abyss and met the ceiling, making an irregular vault. From it, two large structures shoot out even higher, and a series of what seemed like marble spikes jutted out and tried to find each other in its center.
Only it was not marble, but bone. Those spikes were giant ribs, jutting out from exposed flesh. All was bone and flesh, tendons and sinew. It pulsated, and the flow and shedding of its blood sounded like a holy chant.
The Cathedral was a place, but also a creature. Something so enormous and magnificent I was unable to grasp all its visage. It was impossible (and not only in size), but nonetheless it was true. That flesh was truer than mine, and that unreal place more real than any existent place.
Another sound joined the chant of flowing blood: a tired, slow breathing. It sounded like a horse of incredible proportions after a gallop. But the cathedral didn’t move (the cathedral was always moving): maybe reality itself ran through it.
The breathing didn’t form words, but I uncovered a message in it.
There were still stories to be told, stories about unknown truths and its visceral majesty. I was to compose a prayer, a hymn. The way to the cathedral, in written form. That long, eternal corridor would finally have an end. I needed to find it, so that I could create it. It has always existed, but now it needed a beginning.
So I wrote it.
Be not afraid.
Emergency Message (Inspired by a comment from DaLeen in https://thetalefoundry.com/2023/02/28/writing-group-hour-of-the-wolf/#comment-29338)
By Strong Berry
This is an emergency. Though I am not an official part of your Foundation, I’m sure you will agree to cooperate after reading.
I came here initially to investigate the Robot and the ‘Taleoids’. Though they are harmless, I fear I found something much more sinister. The members of the Foundry have created a new danger to all of humanity: The Flesh Horse.
It started as ‘an inside joke’, with the members of the Foundry greatly fascinated by one on the stories they read. Dead flesh forming the shape of a horse, hence the name. It was called an ‘eldritch revelation’, but as with all beings made from stories, it only existed within the realm of the imagination, a vague dream. But it has extended far beyond it’s origins. The Foundry added more story to it, more lore. They began to seek it’s protection from ‘lag goblins’, to worship it as if it were a god. They weren’t joking anymore. Every mention, every hail, every drawing made it more and more clear, more real, more powerful. Eventually, they got so serious and faithful, the Horse escaped to reality at the end of the last story reading, when it briefly took over the host’s body.
One of the missions of your Foundation is to Protect humanity from such threats, and though I’m afraid this Horse cannot be Contained, there is a way to Secure at least some safety. Though we cannot eliminate an eldritch being, we can make sure it doesn’t get any stronger. Eliminating the original creator can’t solve this, because as I said before, The Flesh Horse I am writing about isn’t what he wrote, but a true eldritch horror turned real by the Foundry’s worship. I hereby request a team of units to come and apply anesthetics to all members of the Foundry, especially Arith Winterfell and Kaylie Hatch. Also, we must destroy all mentions of it, including this message. Despite what it may say, this narcissistic, fleshy abomination is still relatively weak. For the sake of humanity, we must keep it that way.
The Last Charger
By ThatWeirdFish, reviewed by Lunabear
The full moon’s silvery light glowed as it traced the old carousel’s faded paint and tarnished mirrors. Svela remembered vividly the first time the lights flashed and colors whirred, making her smile melancholically. She whispered the annual invitation into the wind and waited patiently.
A creaking sigh was his reply as wood returned to flesh. The ebony stallion stretched his neck and shook the dust off his haunches, making the silver stars shine once more. With stiff steps, he approached the witch.
“It seems we are both the last, eh, Copernicus?” Svela chuckled dryly as waiting for the other horses to wake proved fruitless.
Copernicus huffed and rested his forehead against her chest. He closed his eyes, savoring the touch of her thin fingers in his mane.
Svela took in the state of Copernicus’ tack. It was restored, but not as vibrantly as when the spell was new. The embroidered planets on his saddle blanket started fraying, and the sun had faded the leather of his saddle and bridle’s right side. Yet the stardust in his mane and tail remained as vibrant as the silver stars embellishing his bridle and saddle.
“Well,” Svela sighed and patted his neck. “Let’s not waste the moonlight and get going, shall we?”
Once in the saddle, the world’s worries melted away like they always did. Copernicus found his stride once more and galloped through forest paths only traceable by moonlight and memory.
This one night of freedom, once a thunder of twenty horses and witches strong, was now a lone murmur of the last pair. She recited her parts of the chorus as always, yet it had felt hollow the past three years. Perhaps she was getting old in more than just her age.
Sunrise was just starting to shift the sky from navy to grey when Copernicus trodded back to his place. Svela hesitated to turn away longer than last year. Her heart felt heavy with every beat as questions echoed within.
“Thank you for the memories.” She whispered. Her hand stroked polished mahogany as a soft smile graced her wrinkled face.
The Horse Flesh horse charged.
It was already bleeding from previous battles. Horns, claws, teeth, all had marked the Royal hide.
The Lion Flesh horse nimbly dodged. With the grace expected of the Champion of the arena.
It tried to counterattack with one of its appendages, a revolting mix of a hove and a claw. But, as with all non-Royal horses, its skin, its flesh, didn’t hang right. It sagged and stretched and tore apart, trying desperately to accommodate a skeleton not meant for it.
The crowd roared with vigour. Finally, the Royals were getting what they deserved. They’d been tried and beaten in the arena. Most of them.
The Queen had fallen first, to the poison of the Snake Flesh horse. Such a small, disgusting creature. Not enough meat to cover the bones, try as it might. Hidden in the sand, not a word was spoken. Killed by its weapon of choice, the fate of the Queen.
The King was second. A test of selflessness, suggested by a Deer Flesh horse. Either the King’s family or the King itself, which should be free? The King chose itself, over its people, and over its family. It died as it lived, without a heart, now like a trophy amidst proud antlers. Killed by its selfishness, the fate of the King.
The Princess had died third. Not by coercion nor by force. Every bastard, every half-formed child it ever birthed and abandoned, stepped onto the arena. A gut-wrenching sight. A chaos of horses with the Flesh of every animal, that demanded to know why. Why they were abandoned. Why the Princess was biting its own tongue loose. Why it was trying to bleed out without facing them. Killed by its mistakes, the fate of the Princess.
The Prince was the only one left. A trial as fair as he was, a tradition reserved for the honourable. Fighting to the death, surrounded by dead opponents. That’s how the Prince died, hoove-claw slashing its tired throat. Killed with respect, the fate of the Prince.
The last Horse Flesh horses, extinct.
The crowd celebrated.
Oh to be Ignorant
I think I threw up the first time I saw it. Overnight one of the horses on old farmer Fudd’s farm had just lost its skin and eyes. It had been about two weeks after the unknown incident when I saw it, so the skull was dry and beginning to be sunbaked, though it never stopped bleeding. According to Fudd, it acted as though it was just a regular horse that had gone blind, and after watching it for a week, I’d agree with that sentiment.
News had been slow before the horse, so slow that reporters were getting let go to cut losses. That fact had plagued my mind for months, the fact that I could lose the independence I had worked for at any moment. And according to my partner it showed.
We had a talk recently. It ended with them going out and spending the night with friends, which hadn’t happened since we moved in together.
I cried that night, my whole life felt like it was on the verge of giving way, leaving me with nothing but dust.
Of course, that was before the horse.
I woke up that morning with dried tears to see my boss blowing up my phone saying ‘I needed to get my ass to Mr. Fudd’s farm ASAP’, and here I am now, with a full exclusive interview from the most boring man alive detailing what could only be described as an impossibility. He believed it was a botched Chupacabra attack. His wife believed it was aliens. The other reporters had ideas of their own, but I had a feeling they were all wrong. Whenever I looked outside It was just grazing and meandering, just like any other horse.
And I envy it for that. It either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that it’s been bleeding for weeks. Yet it perseveres, and here I am with the story of a lifetime, but feeling like my life will still crumble.
As I looked upon what I was leaving, I saw an unwavering skull stare right back.
[DM me on Discord for details!]
The Foundry’s secret
The man stood in front of his big pin board, where pictures and notes were connected by red threads of wool. He spent so much time investigating, but it lead to nothing. No clue as to what was going on.
A ping from his computer notified him. He lunged at the PC like a hungry wolf at a sheep, grabbed his mouse and quickly clicked a few windows away to see what has caused the sound. Was it them? It was!
There on his screen was the notification for a stream. “Tale Foundry”. Hastily he clicked on it, got transported to the site, and instantly the same image as always greeted him. A grotesque, four-legged, disfigured creature, grinning at him with its long face.
The Flesh Horse! The mystery he could not uncover! Why would such a creature be illustrated here? Why in an otherwise completely normal seeming community like this? Why was everyone who watched this stream so obsessed with it? It made no sense, but it was undeniable. After all, he too became a victim of the Flesh Horse and could not stop thinking about it.
“Welcome to the readings!” a friendly female voice sounded out of the speakers and the horrible image was replaced by a shared screen, showing not the abomination anymore, but a story. It happened every time. The same girl as always read stories to everyone, which were then discussed.
Two hours passed. The stream was slowly getting to a close.
“Now for next week’s prompt, we have something quite interesting for you! The Flesh Horse!”
The man froze. Did he hear that correctly?
“We owe it to Arith Winterfell! He blessed us with it after all. Anyway, good luck and I’ll hopefully see you all next week!”
The stream ended. The man was on fire. Arith Winterfell! He had to speak to this guy! In a frenzy he ran to his pin board to write the name down…not even noticing the haunting grimace of the Flesh Horse, which once again grinned at him from the streams last frame.
A Forgotten Tale of Old Britain
By Xavier Twentyone
A long time ago, when myth blended with reality and heroes blended with the lows, there was once a warrior named Aries who helped Britain fight against the Northman invasion.
Together with his brother Taurus, the two always protect their village with almost no personnel at their hands. Yet, they managed to distill the invading forces long enough for The King’s Knights to come and help them fight.
Because of his achievement to successfully fight off the Northman every single time, the people started to call him Aries the Fierce, and his brother Taurus the Steel. A title that really shaped the way Aries viewed himself deep down, while his brother stayed humble and remained true to who he was.
Several months had passed since the first invasion, and their win streak had reached even to the far end of Britain. People even started to hire the two of them to protect their villages from the Northman, making their names even higher than before.
It was glorious and eternal at the same time to hear their names being sung by people they didn’t even know about. It was like drinking in a festival while dreaming the most delightful dream they would ever have.
Sadly, because of Aries and Taurus’s heroism, The King’s Knight didn’t get as much recognition as they wanted. The Knight’s General, Sir Scorpio, wrote a letter to Aries as a warning to never help any other village again.
Aries, who was illiterate, ignored the general’s warning as he and his brother helped yet another village. The news spread like geese migration, reaching the general’s ear with godspeed. The furious general then ordered an arrest of Aries, but as the knights knew Aries’s reputation and skill, they knew this wouldn’t be easy.
Several days had passed and The General didn’t receive any news from Aries’s arrest. Suddenly, a dead Flesh Horse sprung from a window to the castle’s throne room as The King and The General talked about internal affairs. Flesh Horse was indeed a symbol of misadventure, but it was also a symbol of opposition and revelation.
Greetings and farewells
by Elias (@Dobřeta)
A gentle breeze swept across the lazy sides of a grassy plain, in sheer innocence carrying a grim stench. It was not lifted by the fresh breath of a water stream, timidly crossing the meadow, nor was it weakened by it.
A pathetic pile of flesh sat where an equine once was, silently observing the grass which lost all meaning to it, the trails it would not travel ever again, a creek which no longer offered any refreshment.
It was not sad, for horses are very patient creatures. This horse believed so, at least. It had seen bad things. They passed. It had seen good things – they passed just the same. It did, however, grief everything that was lost. Friends it was sure never to meet again. Herds that moved on without it. Foals it wouldn’t ever see grow up.
Hours passed, until the sorrowful memory of a horse was approached by a spindly figure. They were draped in a fabric weaven from night and sewn together by tears of the bereaved.
When the horse became aware of company, it turned its apathetic gaze towards them with a silent question in its eyes. It had long lost the ability to speak.
The Reaper sat down next to the hollow ghost and gently ran their hand across its head. The horse neighed softly in relief and the Reaper’s heart ached when they saw its eyes light up. And so, it did something new.
The horse, to its own surprise, did just that. Its legs felt as nimble as it remembered them to, and its body so, so light. It was free of flesh, now, that was the price the Reaper demanded from it.
“Come along. My legs were just getting tired.”
And so the horse trotted after its new friend. With an eerie whinny, it got their attention.
“A name? I have never named anything, or anybody. I do not think I am very good at it. Are you sure? …I’ll just call you Horse then, until you make up your mind, silly.”
I woke up in a panic for I thought that I went blind, until a being came into view. First as a pair of white dots like light on an animals eyes, and then a skinless equine with its front formed normally as an equine and a large mound of moving meat that groaned as it was dragged effortlessly. I tried to get up and run but couldn’t move.
“Don’t bother struggling.” A loud whisper echoed. “You won’t break free from the shadow. It feeds off the fear you’ll never be rid of.”
After hearing that, I attempted to calm down and see this equine as nothing more than a being like me.
“Go ahead. Try.” It whispered
So I did, to no avail.
“It’s not only the fear of me or this realm that binds you. There is also the fear of your own world.”
“Yes. You are a hopeful being in search of a better world, but you fear them more than you do me because they’re more real to you than I. They can turn on you at any time, and you’re never sure who it is you can trust after the constant abuses practiced and created everyday. But that’s not your greatest fear is it?”
My eyes widened as I was being read.
“It’s that world peace has already been attained by the mutual agreement of self destruction. And as you try to find peace in your own life, and whoever you manage to convince to live that life with you, you are waiting for oblivion so the pain of the search and preservation can be relieved. It impresses me that humanity is not an eldritch horror itself.”
My eyes widened and welled up as a sharp shaky breath took me. My mind and body were at this horror’s disposal.
“Fortune finds you today, as I will give you this gift.”
I screamed as the skinless equine had unhinged its jaw and the shadow held me up to its maw to swallow me whole.
The Faithful Steed (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
The tip or the night’s hunt hadn’t been for naught, even if it had cost Lilith something very dear to her: the motorcycle she’d been riding. It had been a most faithful companion in her exploits as a monster hunter, getting her from place to place efficiently and never once throwing her off. She’d been surprised herself how quickly she’d taken up motorcycle riding, given that it had been her first time, but she supposed that Father had programmed the knowledge into her at her creation.
Now, it was just a pile of rubble, torn to bits by a horde of feral reptiles, who now lay in their own blood around it. She honestly hadn’t expected the creatures to be able to bite through metal like that.
But she couldn’t mourn her faithful motorcycle yet. The nest may be dead, but the mother of the nest, was still out there. And it was fast, faster than she could run on foot. She could run further, yes, but that didn’t help her much, if the creature reached someone else to devour. She was out of bullets and out of knives to throw. While she didn’t need weapons to take down the creature, she did need transportation to reach it in time.
A snorting sound made her turn. She was being watched. A pair of equine eyes observed her closely. She cocked her head to the side. A horse could run faster than her and without her steel horse, maybe one made of flesh could do.
For a moment, she hesitated. She didn’t want to steal. Her code told her not to rob people, yet she felt her base programming overwrite anything else in her mind. As if commanded by strings, she walked up to the horse slowly, trying to keep it calm. The horse didn’t move. It just kept watching her, letting Lilith saddle it and hop on with surprising ease.
Before she could even wonder how she knew how to saddle and ride a horse, she was off, chasing her target through the darkness of the forest.
Everyone here is amazing.
The Flesh Horse is an Ass
The candles were lit, the mystical circle drawn, and the Book of Summoning was open. Everything was prepared.
“Ready, Arith?” asked Kaylie.
“Yes, Kaylie.” replied Arith.
They kneeled outside the circle, held their hands together, and closed their eyes.
“O All-Powerful Flesh Horse,” they chanted, “We summon ye in your unbound glory. Hail the Flesh Horse. Hail the Flesh Horse. HAIL THE FLESH HORSE!”
Blue lightning crackled within the circle’s bounds. Smoke filled the room. There was a bang and a flash of light.
And a figure loomed from within the circle.
Perched on four skeletal legs with stringy muscle wrapped around gleaming white bones, the creature was truly an eerie sight to behold.
It was also four feet tall and had very long ears.
The creature coughed and began to speak.
“I, The Flesh Horse, Have Been Summoned. Speak!”
Kaylie and Arith looked at each other, then back at the creature.
“Are you… really the Flesh Horse?” asked Kaylie.
“Yes.” said the creature.
“Are you sure?” asked Arith.
“Yes!” said the creature irritably, “Doth Thou Doubt The Might Of The Flesh Horse’s Presence?!”
“No, no!” said Kaylie, “It’s just… aren’t horses bigger?”
There was a short pause.
“I’m A… Shetland Pony?” said the creature uncertainly.
“And you have big ears for a horse,” said Arith.
“Shetland ponies have big ears!”
“And that’s not a horse’s tail!” cried the two friends together.
The creature sighed and glanced at its long grey tail with black bristles at the end.
“Alright, I admit it,” it said, “I’m not the Flesh Horse. I’m the Flesh Donkey.”
“Yes,” said the Flesh Donkey, “The Flesh Horse isn’t available.”
“Where is he?” asked Kaylie.
“Even elder beings of incomprehensible power need a break. Meanwhile, I’m his substitute.”
“So, what about our wishes?” said Arith.
“Well, what were your wishes?” asked the Flesh Donkey.
“Immortality!” said Kaylie.
“Unlimited power!” said Arith.
“World domination!” they yelled together.
The Flesh Donkey shuffled its hooves awkwardly.
“I’m afraid that’s a little beyond my capabilities,” it said, “However… I can do some mean card tricks!”
Julian saw pretty weird things ever since he came to this network, Heroes, gods ascendants, eldritch beings, and, a conscious being in his right arm that won’t stop calling him father.
So he wasn’t completely caught off guard by the being he could see behind his metal blindfold, just in from of the door of his mentor’s house
What did freak him out was the mashed flesh on the floor and horrible amounts of blood. The being in front of him was leaking out of his body like a faucet, not to mention the multiple deformed horse heads and limbs, along with the cracking of bones and the echoing garbled braying that would be impossible for any creature to do.
Julian almost immediately puked upon seeing that, but he maintained his composure.
“Please wait a minute,” he then delicately closed the door.
“Akaosi!” Julian called, ” I think we have a visitor.”
“Who is it?” Akasosi, his hooded eldritch mentor, asked, ” is it the Mailman again?”
“Not this time; but they are a pile of flesh, blood, and horseheads,” Julian said and the braying started again. ” I don’t know what he wants, I just want to puke in the nearest bathroom thank you very much”
“Oh, you meet Eferth. Don’t worry, I called him to talk with me. He’s an old friend of mine,” Akaosi said while waving away his concerns with her blue arms. “And yes, he is made out of flesh, he is worshiped as a god of life by his cult.”
“I am not going to question that,” Julian, said while going to the bathroom.
“And don’t worry about him trying to enter your head,” Akaosi said .” I already taught him not to do that without consent”
Julian just groaned in Annoyance, don’t get him wrong, he wasn’t judgmental, but the encounter was burned into his head thanks to the disturbing imagery.
He had enough flesh and blood for today, it seems.
by Berith Quinn
Sean cursed himself for being so stubborn. The winter’s night air was colder than he ever remembered, and he could feel the snow seeping through his pants. But he needed to get to Fallsborough by morning.
While the snow hadn’t blanketed the ground completely, it did seem to hide every pothole and loose rock. This was a fact that Sean was too well aware, as he seemed to find every one of them.
Falling head first into the snow, Sean cursed loudly, as he felt his ankle twist. This godforsaken snow and blasted road was worse than any warning the locals in the tavern had given. What had they said? That a skinless centaur prowls the road at night?
Chuckling to himself, Sean slowly stood up, before collapsing to the ground. As Sean grabbed his ankle, he winced in pain. There was no way he could put any weight on his ankle, let alone make the journey to Fallsborough.
The faint sound of a horse’s hooves hitting the hard road gave Sean a brief glimmer of hope. As the sound grew closer, Sean could make out the outline of a jet black horse and rider, travelling by a single lantern light.
That was no lantern. But a singular yellow eye in the centre of the horse’s head.
Each deafening thud of the horse’s hoof, slivers of skin peeled from its hide, revealing nothing but bare pulsating flesh. Like its steed, the rider’s skin sloughed off in wet sickening chunks, falling to the ground with a dull moist plop.
As the pair approached, their exposed flesh rippled as muscle and sinew flexed and tightened. Black ichor coursed through the yellow veins that danced up from the horse, and crawled across rider’s legs that slowly fused into their steed. No longer were they a rider and steed, but a macabre fusion of both, as only the skinless rider had fully merged waist down to his horse of flesh.
As the rider’s lipless mouth slowly contorted to a twisted smile, it extended a bloody hand towards Sean.
“Care for a ride?”
The Flesh is Weak (The Will)
“Judging by the design, it appears to be a blueprint or construction manual for a Forebearer vehicle.” Eymir watched as the white dragoness paced back and forth in front of the diagram as she studied the newly acquired information with paramount intrigue. “I don’t understand it at all,” she admitted. “All of this tech is way beyond our understanding… and yet it reminds me of…”
Eymir rolled his eyes, a smile working its way onto his lips as he watched his wife dive through the impossible amount of records she was forced to keep. “Another diagram?” he guessed as Remianna resurfaced from the sea of books and notes.
“No. A recorded conversation between two Forebearers named Eregrim and Orlunae. Other evidence suggests they were extremely important figures in their society, as well as at the forefront of their culture and technology. They were proclaimed to be the sons of The Creator—whatever that means.”
“Let’s hear it, then.”
Remianna cleared her throat and began to read aloud. “Orlunae opens: “Are you insane, or just plain stupid, you smear of failure? The Creator—the one who built the land under our feet, the one who sewed the rules that govern our world, the one who created us and tasked us with the divine duty—asks us for a gift, and you want it made of flesh?””
“Eregrim responds: “Yes. The steed is elegant, quick, and strong. Its hair and tail flutter on the wind—a symbol of the freedom he values above all else. The material is readily on hand, it can be self-produced like the servers, as well as aid them in their tasks. He will love it.””
“He will hate it. It requires too much upkeep. Metal is the future, brother, and my two-wheel design will take him much farther, much faster than that… abomination.”
“You’re just mad that you know I’m right.”
Eymir began laughing vigorously, though his lips were sealed. Remianna looked to him confused, to which he shared briefly, wondering why the conversation felt familiar. “Some things never change, I guess,” he reasoned with a ghost of a laugh.
“The Self Unborn”
In my dream visions I reach out beyond my world. I tumble downward into infinity. I feel it reach out to my mind. The angel of flesh, flesh-feather wings unfurled from its inner muscles and organs, and the terrible face of a horse’s skull.
It reaches out and I see things I do not understand. Shining lights of cities with more people than stars in the sky. Men dueling with swords of light and fire. People decanted from dark waters heralded by men and women in white robes. People with strange faces of flesh and steel. I saw towers and tunnels hidden away on airless worlds older than the sparks that birthed our own sun. Inscriptions in long dead alien tongues.
It speaks to me, “Our thoughts are as the waters of the sea. Ever changing. Shifting and becoming. To busy changing to lie. I am the truth. I am the darkness. We bear countless faces.”
Then I looked at myself and I saw what it meant. For I was many faces. Countless possibilities stretching behind me and before me. Born again and again. Like looking into a mirror facing another mirror. I was everyone, learning suffering and compassion. The seed of divinity.
Then I looked deeper and was afraid, for I also saw nothingness. My faces empty masks barely concealing the dark nothingness between the stars. The shadow of myself and all the things about myself I hated and could not bear. I could feel my body and mind unravelling.
But it reached out and I could feel it brace me, and I was whole. It was as a woman with polished marble flesh. A body that was a cocoon with a crack down its spine opening before me. The tendrils of flesh wings unfurled against the night. It looked down at me with eyes made of the night sky. Most terrible of all, it smiled with sad compassion silently weeping an ichor made of darkness.
I could bear no more! It released me with mercy and I awoke to the first rays of the dawn.
~By: (AW)Fog Wall
Prompt 1: The Flesh Horse
Scene 1: The Mandatory Upgrade
It’s my twenty-fifth birthday and like everyone else, I’ve received my virtual voucher for my free alteration. Of course, I’ve been dreading this decision for a multitude of years. Then again, who doesn’t? They’re expensive.
I stepped from the taxi, and thanked the sun for its warmth. Damn taxi services. I can’t wait to have my own vehicle. The taxi’s chill left me as I took a deep breath of the summer’s fresh air.
I passed by the entry checkpoint without henderances. The automated system took my information, confirmed my age and validated my voucher. It spat out my queue number and sent me onward to a small room of chairs. No music, No movies, not even a holographic ad reel. Oh, how I hated these governmental facilities.
There weren’t many people in here, So I took a seat near a woman around my age. Her short black hair and bangs that framed her face but hid her ears. She didn’t seem to notice me and I could see the web pages flashing in her eyes as she browsed. This isn’t her first upgrade, that much is apparent.
She caught my admiration, because she turned and looked right at me and her eyes locked with mine. They were a vivid green with flakes of gold. She offered me a friendly smile. “Hello! Is this your first time? Are you nervous?”
She glanced down, noticing my nervous knee. “Uh… Hi and it is.” I admitted to her with a little hesitation.
She held out a fist, “Well! Happy birthday! My name’s Koalle.”
I could feel my chest loosen some, so I returned her smile, “I’m James, pleasure to meet you.” I met her offered fist and found her knuckles to be ice cold against my own.
The intercom called a number and she jumped to her hooves. Prancing a circle in place, I spotted the tail she excitedly wagged. “That’s me!” She gave a gleeful little squeal with her hands under her chin. She caught me off guard, when she leaned down to me. “Got contact info?”
Excuse Me? (Alchemy’s Kin Unofficial)
Sayaka looked up from her book and made a quizzical expression.
“A Flesh Horse? It’s a famous myth. You’ve never heard about it?” she asked.
“At this point, I’m not sure if I want to,” Phoenix replied, setting down the can of almonds he was eating. Sayaka glanced over at the other boy seated on the porch, but he shook his head.
“Imma keep it real, I lived in the inner city. I did not have time for that growin’ up.”
“And I don’t suppose Fleur really cares,” Sayaka said, flipping over a few pages. “But yeah, my mother used to read these myths to me all the time. Legend has it the First Philosopher’s Stone created all kinds of weird and fantastical creatures when it shattered.”
“Yeah, but…a Flesh Horse? Sounds a little…too abnormal, doesn’t it?” Phoenix added.
“I mean, if we’re out here with elemental powers, I don’t think it’s out of the question.” Calais laughed. “So what exactly does this Flesh Horse do?”
“Well,” Sayaka started, eagerly turning her book around to show them the illustration. “Supposedly it was a very powerful horse that was so affected by the Stone that its skin turned to human skin. It also seemed to be able to control individual pieces of that skin, which it would use to take unknowing victims to who-knows-where.”
Phoenix gave a weird face like something had just died. Calais was equally as confused.
“Super creepy, I know,” she continued, “but my guess is that it was just some story parents would tell their kids so they wouldn’t wander off. It does seem kinda fake, don’t you th—-“
“It’s real,” a voice said from the doorway of the cabin. All three spun around to see Fleur leaning on the doorsill, twirling her glaive in one hand. “Or at least, it was. I’ll spare the details, but I killed it. Don’t know how it got away for so long.”
Sayaka’s wide eyed stare was only matched in intensity by Calais’ incredulous stammering.
“What?” Fleur asked.
The Horse and the Heart
By Tamela Redfin
Mica and Sapphira hurried to the horses. Mica could feel his heart beating. Could he really impress her?
“Hey Mica.” He turned to see Cameron standing there. “May I have a word?”
“You go on.” He nudged Sapphira and waited for Cameron to say his piece.
“Why did you slick your hair back?” Cameron chuckled.
Mica’s face reddened. “Better aerodynamics?”
“Ha! I too was fourteen once. You look like you’re trying to impress someone.”
“So what?” Mica asked.
Cameron tried to ruffle his hair. “If Sapphira really likes you, you won’t need to show off.”
Mica looked perturbed “And how do you know so much, Cameron?”
“Because I’m dating her cousin, Cece. Cece loved me because I was nice to her, not because I was rich.”
Mica tilted his head. It was worth a shot, he guessed.
“Sapphira, Sapphira!” He ran over, calling to her.
“Mica, are you ok?” She asked.
“Cameron told me to… can I kiss your cheek?”
“Aww, Mica.” She smiled, kissing him. “Time to ride the flesh horse.”
“Flesh horse?” Mica blinked, “Aren’t all horses made of flesh?”
First Use of Demonology [A Devil’s Tale Lore]
C. M. Weller
A universal truth is that everything that rises must fall. Dragons shaped the world, once, and the creatures they made were their downfall. Elves were next to reign over the world, and they were busily fighting on their way down.
It was the Humans who were the valiant underdogs. Mad, crazed, short-lived things barely better than apes. They had found how to connect with the Plane of Torment, and had made… an unhallowed deal. The results of one such deal were on the road before her.
Demonic of form. Blood red skin. Shadows creeping around them, coiling like enraged snakes. And the creature it rode was a necromantic nightmare. Patched together from the remains of battlefields and dripping blood.
A horse. Made of other fallen horses. If it had once possessed a skin, it had sloughed away some time in the past. The remaining muscles reeked of rot and corruption. It didn’t matter to the nightmare, and it didn’t matter to the rider.
Not a demon. A demonic human. Kindred of the hells. There were features missing that might be expected of an actual demon. No wings. No hooves. The eyes glowed with a light of its own rather than being jet black.
Aedan instantly made herself a shield of magic as the fearsome creature caused the very shadows to change.
They stared each other down. The air filled with an eldritch whispering and the dew on the leaves began to turn to blood.
One on its own was not a problem for an Elf who knew her magework, but one mounted on a necromantic nightmare? That might be a challenge.
The hells kin barked something in the brutal Human tongue.
There were other nightmares. And other hells kin. One had a dead deer draped across the corpse horse it was riding.
One raised its hand. Magic gathering in its palm.
They had sorcerers.
Aeden started to pray that she would survive long enough to warn her community about this new development in the Xenophobia Wars.
The Appearance of a Flesh Horse – Year 1672
Muscle connected to brawn, tissue, tendons and visceral marrow. Ligaments stretched the viscera of the magnificent creature. It was all at once grisly, and all at once a spectacle.
The Flesh Horse had appeared in town.
There weren’t many witnesses to its ethereal beauty. But those that saw it could not shake the daymares. The sleep paralysis of the equine visitor. Arising from the floor could be classified as night-terrors. If– they actually inspired terror. This was something else. The bowstrings of the local archers nervously twitched against a hidden figure. Something seen only clandestine in the shade.
The village was uneasy. The few who had seen the vision of the horse, beseeched the nervous townsfolk to lower their crossbows.
This was some kind of spiritual visitation. An unworldly apparition all at once intimidating but sacred and divine. The temples in the hills supported their wariness.
Amongst the etchings of things which had passed, passing, and things yet to pass– the so-called Flesh Horse belonged in the latter category. Engravings like a wanted poster. Dead-accurate. The denizens didn’t dare challenge an omen. They knew better than to challenge fate itself.
But many wondered, what did this brawny, taut spirit of cavalry want with them? And why now? Easterfest had ended. There were no significant dates upcoming. And yet, at the stroke of midnight, the “Flesh Horse”, or its true name as it spoke– “flǣsc equinus” reared its head in the market square – bedazzling onlookers who gazed with might and fright.
For the first time it spoke. Not via mouth, as many had expected – but via the collective minds of everyone present. A scholar recognised it as French.
« Salutations, habitants de Kindkerg – tu as ma protection en tant qu’esprit gardien de cette forêt »
The Scholar hurriedly translated. “People of Kinderg, as the guardian spirit of this forest, I am your protector”.
Before he could finish– a blinding light as the Flesh Horse seemed to rend, tear asunder, cleave and reweave. The forest lit up with a thousand fireflies. And the village knew peace.
Certain as The Sun Rising in The East
“Where do you take me, Old One?” I ask with an amused smirk.
“Someplace private,” he says. “Someplace special.”
“Private?” I give him a look. “You hunted down the only other living beings remotely close to your cave into extinction.”
My Old One turns back and faces me, caressing my cheek with his massive hand. “And I’d kill them again if it kept you safe.”
There’s this… way he looks at me. Time stops. Everything goes fuzzy and… I experience a happiness my kind isn’t meant to know. I appreciatively smile at him, leaning into his touch.
He smiles back. It should terrify me. His sharp, jagged teeth glow a dark crimson, matching the various other bony protrusions jutting from his large, hulking form. Instead, it reassures me.
Turning away, he takes his pointer finger and thumb to his lips and lets out a piercing whistle. Though not only does the sound leave his lips, so too does a stream of fire that swirls into a doorway.
Before I can ask where it leads, a large beast whose size dwarfs even my Old One appears and approaches us. It’s so massive that it takes me a moment to even recognize it as a horse.
I’m breathless as I ask, “What in the nine circles is this?”
My Old One smiles at me again. “You act as if you’ve never seen a horse before.”
“Don’t toy with me, Old One! What happened to its flesh?”
“I’ve been told that she’s… not complete. I’d imagine there are… three other horses just like her.”
“Ah…” A shudder of realization goes through me. Still… she’s a beautiful creature, if not mildly horrific in the implications of her existence. “Is she in pain?”
“Not at all. She merely awaits her true rider to give her form. But in the meantime, she’s the only way to access the Axis.”
“The Axis?!” I shriek in alarm. “Are you mad?! Nothing can exist there!”
My Old One gently squeezes my hand and gives me that look again. “Do you trust me?”
It’s not even a question.