In the center loomed up a monument, unlit, a bulk of shadow against the stars; Martisset squinted into the darkness to make out details–hooves and legs of a horse, leg of the rider–then no longer needed to, as Martisset the Elder had uprooted one of the path-beacons.
The beacon’s steady glow revealed a rider mounted on a horse, but the figure missing from the waist upward. The right hand held a sword, the left a severed knot (at first she thought it a bundle of entrails). Behind the saddle — terrifyingly realistic in the low light, heads hanging in a bundle by the hair, the faces picked down to the skull. The empty sockets stared back at her, hollows of shadow.
Martisset felt a chill and a drop in her midsection that was nothing like the exhilarating free-fall of a skimmer landing.
“The Pale Rider,” said Martisset the Elder. “Our namesake.”
POV Martisset, age six. From novel-in-progress, Ship’s Heart.
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