Of course, I’m referring to it because it’s in the title of my last novel (YA Fantasy):
Equine Neophyte of the Blood Desert.
The only chance she has is to run into the desert of death, the red desert, and chase the Master of Horse. Better a death by desert than from the cruel hands of the Master of Terror.
The Master of Horse! Neesa didn’t even know there was a Master of Horse – she’d been all over the City of the Wall and heard no mention of a living Master of Horse. She’d always assumed it to be empty and abandoned, no Masters left to undertake the training of students.
The black horse ambled over to her and rubbed his head against her chest, leaned in to rub his nose against her right arm. Blood stuck to his coat and matted the fine hairs as she used his strength to pull herself straight. She pulled a cloth from the pocket of her vest and wiped it down his nose, careful not to pull too hard. She spit onto her palm and wiped more of the blood away before finishing the job with the tip of her tunic.
“It would be appreciated if you could start your tasks immediately,” the deep voice said from behind her. “The horse requires a good brush, feed and water, and-”
“She’ll not be undertaking a role with the Guild of Horse,” the Master of Gold yelled. “She’ll not be leaving this city, undertaking any apprenticeship, until the issue of CHEATING has been finalised – and the perpetrator executed!”
Neesa was sure it was a mistake, but the Master of Horse raised his chin and flicked his long black beard over his shoulder. A warm flow of magic filtered in lines and flickers of smooth ripples around the horse as the Master of Horse stepped forward and flexed his feet and hands.
“Do you wish me to report stating you execute neo’s for unproven acts?” His voice slid across the hard roils of anger between the two men. “Or would you prefer to make the proper ministrations to a visiting Master, and heed to the magic of the List whereby the Master of Horse has requested an apprentice?”
“You did this?” the scream bounced off the walls and flung clouds of dust in random dances of chaos.
“Of course. How else am I to notify the Administrator of the City of the Wall of my need?”
“Why was I not told?”
“The Administrator of Guilds was notified and agreed, as is usual. If you are the Administrator, you would know the message.”
“I received no message,” the scream was compounded by the stamping of his feet. First the right, then the left.
“One message was sent. One message is the board. The neo was unlit for other guilds. It is there – clear – for you to see. The worded message was received – I have the sigil of the receiver here – prior to the two passages of the pale moon over the dark.” The Master of Horse took one step closer. “Are you refusing to allow the chosen apprentice to undertake her allotted task?”
A serious question. Neesa saw the immediate flash of rage in the mind of the Terror, followed by a pale light. There was no Guild Administrator to verify, since Rontos had entered the Dome of Chimes and locked himself into the basement, refusing both food and water. This was bad. She feared for the horse and the Master.
“Yes,” the Master of Gold said, as his breath rasped and spittle dripped down his mottled chin. “I have chosen this neo for my own purposes, and she is not available.”
The Master of Horse flicked his hands in the air, spoke words inaudible over the roar in Neesa’s ears. When he turned back to the List, the board was dark. No sigils, no guild names, no marks at all.
“I have requested each Guild to send a representative to hear the matter. A quorum would be five hundred and one Guilds who consent to your request. Any less, and the neo will be my apprentice.”
A whisper of dread tugged at her hair. Tiny wisps of magic tried to get her attention. Ignore it; avoid any contact he might see. If Terror knew … if he saw …
The Horse whickered and the magic popped into nothingness. Neesa opened her mouth and yawned until her ears popped.
“Tired, are we, neo? That will change.”
Neesa hadn’t seen the Master of Gold step up beside her. He grabbed her arm and spun her towards the Spine Hall. His big hands shoved at her back until she was at the threshold.
“You will await my instructions in the lower pit in the Room of the Third.”
Her fingers trembled as she unclenched her hands from her ragged and bloody tunic.
“Go!” the Master of Terror screamed at her.
Copyright Shannon Hunter & Cage Dunn 2017
And yes, I am still working on Nano, while learning how to use Scrivener, and On Track (with fingers crossed) because I’ve just come up with a higher-than-expected, slightly to the wild-side moment to Kick the Pants on the End.