Extract 2 from WIP No.1

Some centuries ago – texts differ as to when – a warlord and his horde arrived from the north on horseback, and lay siege to much of our country. Little has been written down about the period. Our invaders had no use for writing.  Books were an impediment to their nomadic lifestyle. And so they piled up all of the volumes from our libraries and abbeys and erected giant spits above them. It is said that the goat curry that night had an especial piquancy, its ingredients having been smoked over parchment. Consequently, accounts are confused. Some say that the great warrior marched in accompanied by two tame white tigers. Others tell of the warlord’s personal guards, riding in the van of his army, mounted on the backs of armour-plated mammoths. Their chargers were said to be scions of the wild horses that roamed the steppes. They were remarkable beasts. Most remarkable of all were their muzzles. Rising above the flared nostrils – from which smoke was said to issue – was a distinct hump. Some saw in this the stump left behind when a rhino’s horn has been hewn off for use as an aphrodisiac. And in their abnormally high shoulder blades they saw further vestigial remains. Had these steeds, then, formerly possessed the power of flight?

According to Jaako Noorii in Yak’s-tail Broth, his volume dealing with this episode in our history, the warlord was a disgraced lama, his horde Buddhist monks who’d turned warrior. Having abandoned their vows of chastity, they’d soon found that the barren lands they wandered with their herds of yak and goat were incapable of feeding extra mouths. And so they’d traded a life of herdsmanship for one of brigandry. At first sight, you might think that their itinerant culture had left no mark on ours. Their lives were based around the horse and the yurt. They bequeathed us no buildings of note, no works of art. They brought us two things only – destruction and terror. In this, they would not be alone. But think again. Is there not something analogous in our condition? Can a comparison not be made between our train and the nomadic lifestyle of the horde? Even now our unstoppable locomotives are pounding toward some unsuspecting city. Iron horses, iron yurts…


© PSR 2013

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