It was the steed of a dead god.
Cel had always been told as much, but seeing the Abysswalker up close for the first time made it undeniable.
Even though it wasn’t a horse or any other beast of burden. Within seconds of seeing the large hump of it’s back, covered with metallic feathers that rippled over its body, it was obvious it wasn’t a larger version of any animal she knew. It’s head, vaguely shaped like a horse’s, only had calm, black eyes–at least from what she could see with the rest of its face covered by a golden helmet of gently swaying chain. On its side, what looked like a strange, vestigial arm–curled forward over the strap of its saddle–became a wing, at complete odds with its impossible legs.
They were the detail you always heard about when anyone spoke of the Abysswalker. The parts of its body responsible for its name. From her spot on the far side of the Walker’s boarding platform, she could only see the tops of them–long muscle corded in a way that made them look like tree trunks. But as she walked to the edge of the platform and looked down over the cliff’s edge, she saw them arching down an unknowable distance–a mile or more into misty nothing below them. One of the legs was straight, wooden muscles tight. The other curved, slack in a way that somehow didn’t demonstrate where its knees or ankles were.
Both legs stemmed from the Walker’s hind quarters.
“It really only has two legs?”
Its keeper chuckled. “Everyone always asks that. You pilgrims come here ready to let the Abysswalker carry you off into the unknown, but you’re all worried it’ll fall before you get there.”
Sacrificing your mundane life to ride the steed of a dead god into the Abyss, knowing that at some point, the Walker would return without you–that you’d be lost in another realm you couldn’t possibly imagine–was one thing. Having that steed stumble so you plummet to an early death in a mile-long pratfall was something else entirely.
“It’s surprisingly intimidating,” Cel said. “That’s all.”
A grunted chuckle as the keeper walked up and patted the Walker’s side. Cel heard it growl low before releasing a short cry. A trumpeted pop that echoed across the edge of the Abyss–the sound disappearing into its maelstrom of gentle, pearlescent clouds.
The Walker lifted its wings, exposing the rope ladder to its saddle.
“You sure you’re ready?” the keeper asked.
Cel looked at that ladder. Fidgeted with the straps of her travel pack, stuffed heavy and high over her back, but suddenly feeling too light.
Trying to keep her breathing steady, she looked back over Ashaiden–the immediate villages of Northwatch that she’d only just experienced, and the lands beyond, unseeable, where she’d grown up.
“Sure,” she said, because in that moment, no word could possibly be more decisive.
I woke up today with half of a post already written, but I decided I didn’t want to publish it. It was about my writing process and it felt a little too much like the last three months of my content, so I decided, “How about a Draft instead?”
With absolutely no idea what I’d write about, I looked at old, half-finished short stories from my discovery writing days and found a document titled “The Abysswalker,” which, when opened, turned out to actually be called “The Voidbeast” (because I’d been switching names for the story’s titular monster).
Seeing that “Abysswalker” was free though, I thought, “What would an Abysswalker actually be?” and that became the challenge for this Draft. Halfway through, I added on a secondary challenge of making this a “Megapremise” (a type of premise that I wrote a post about back in June) which worked out well enough that I kinda want to write more for this?
At any rate, thanks for reading. If you’re new here, I post every Sunday/Monday. If you liked this Draft, there’s a link to more of them on the left sidebar. But you can also find the Follow button there (on PC at least; on mobile, it’s in the top-right drop down menu) if you want to give my blog a follow. If you liked this post, please give it a Like so I can gauge how much all of you liked this content. It helps steer the ship when it comes to future posts.
All of that said, take care, stay safe, and Civ 6 is amazing. If you find it on sale or free on the Epic Game Store, it’s absolutely worth it. Unless you hate micromanaging the growth of a civilization for literally hundreds of turns. To each their own, I guess.