As hard as I try not to be worried, I am. I am worried, and frightened. The Thirteenth Dragonhorse has challenged the leader of the Wind Warriors, the Telenir. Hand to hand combat to the death for the leadership of our world. And now he has gone somewhere to meet that challenge. He has been gone for what seems like a very long time. There is even a rumor that my sire and Captain Ah’riodin have been killed in a shuttle explosion. My mother has told me not to say anything and not to worry, so I have kept quiet, but still there is this fear that I may be kneeling over my sire’s lifeless body with a knife at my throat, explaining our culture to the Telenir. I know, the Amberians, the Phyllans, the Menorquins … allies all, would not let that happen. But what if the collapse of Equus is the collapse of the AEW? What if it is all gone with the single slash of a knife?
The thought of war is never pleasant, and every time a Dragonhorse rises, the threat of being swept from the stars by the Wind Warriors, rises with him. It is true that each Dragonhorse has conquered somebody in the course of his reign, or at least gathered alliances, but the Wind Warriors are a different story. They are invisible and completely unknown, yet one Dragonhorse was killed by the Wind Warriors his first day in office, and another was gravely wounded and his family murdered his third day in office, so I have a knot in my guts for good reason.
Usually when a Dragonhorse decides to add to the Affined Equi Worlds, we know who those people are. We know something about their culture and their way of life. We know where in the Seventh Galactic Alliance their world is located, and we know their strengths and weaknesses. With the Telenir, this is not the case. We know absolutely nothing about them.
A poem was written a couple of millennia ago, and set to music. It is called, “The Ballad of the Wind Warriors,” and it is absolutely the only piece of information we have about them. That sounds funny, I know, that the most powerful planet in the SGA should be afraid of a song, but it’s true. While we are a people who love knowledge and exploration, and who are endlessly curious, we do not like the unknown. That’s probably our horse genes kicking in.
And now we are at our most vulnerable. Ardenai is a wonderful man, kind and generous. But is he a warrior? I have never seen that side of him so I cannot say. I know he plays a mean game of polo, but a mallet is not a crossbow. He is young. At one hundred he is just now considered fully mature. He is still grieving for his wife, and that may weaken his focus. I just wish we had more information. Uncertainty breeds such vivid imaginings, and there are times I cannot pretend any longer that I am not afraid. I am. And I am not alone.
Very effective—completely believable voice.