And the Horse He Rode In On by Richard Dickson

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SUMMARY: Entry for the March Flash Fiction Contest (1,053 words)

"If he expects me to get up to anything more than a trot," Besswyn muttered, "he might want to stop gorging himself like a barnyard hog." He absently brushed a fly away with a quick flick of his tail. "Even without the armor he's turning me into a swayback."

Sir Kendrick took another bite from the roast turkey leg, the fifth he'd plucked from the birds turning on the spit over the campfire. "Most hogs would be offended by that sort of behavior," Lucero said, a note of disgust in his voice. They were hobbled a short distance from where their masters enjoyed their feast, the fire sending long shadows dancing towards them. Along with the smell of cooked bird. "By Aor, I will simply never understand how they can consume so much," Lucero added, his nostrils twitching at the unpleasant aroma.

"They be wishin' they be wolves," Wyd said, licking his lips as he padded over to the horses.

Besswyn snorted. "You're a dog. You think everyone wishes they were wolves."

"They be doin' such a poor job of it, is all," Wyd said

"I hear no complaints from your direction when the scraps come your way," Lucero said.

"The thirsty wolf not be complainin' when the rain be fallin'," Wyd laughed. "'Sides, be goin' ta waste otherwise."

"Going to his waist, more likely," Besswyn replied. "Took him three tries to mount me at that tourney in Pennituck. And then he gets knocked off on the first pass. Waste of time."

"I honestly don't know why he persists in trying," Lucero said. "One would think he's had sufficient trips to the ground to knock any misconceptions regarding his ability out of him."

"Well, he's drawn Brillmacchio in the first round," Besswyn said, "so he'll be seeing the ground again soon enough."

Lucero eyes widened. "Oh, my sympathies," he said. "But you must admit, even if Sir Kendrick were a shining example of knighthood, he still wouldn't stand much of a chance against Brillmacchio."

Besswyn sighed as Kendrick downed a sloshing mug of ale. "I know. But just once, I'd like to finish a joust with the fat bastard still on my back." Gloomily, he lowered his head to his feed trough.

"Brillmacchio be risin' up in his stirrups before he be strikin'."

Besswyn's head snapped up, his mouth half-full of oats. "What did you say?"

Wyd cocked his head. "Ye be bein' blind ta not be seein' it! Right afore he be layin' lance ta shield, he be standin' up a wee bit."

"And how is it you're suddenly such the learned expert on jousting?" Lucero asked.

"I be takin' an interest in what the man who be feedin' me be doin' with his time."

"That doesn't matter," Besswyn said excitedly. "I know when he's going to strike!"

"But how do you propose to convey that to Kendrick? Unless Wyd also has human speech amongst his ever-surprising set of skills?"

"Buncha ball-less birds they be soundin' like."

"I don't have to tell him," Besswyn said. "I just have to figure out what to do about it."


A breeze aimlessly fluttered the banners above the lists, but did little to cool Besswyn beneath his heavy caparison.

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