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Bannermen Sang…
Prentice Dolphin Chapter 2
…in their hoarse, wordless chorus as their destriers pranced in the courtyard and the banner of the opaque cross upon the field of snow fluttered in the frigid breeze. The ringing of iron shoes on granite flags, the hollow scrapping of horny hoof on granite same, the swag of leather-sheathed scabbards against leathern saddles, the soft slinking of mail against all, the furious flutter of banners, and the ominous clink of the visor of that awesome opaque helm, greeted him. Upwelling within swelled a kind of humiliation buoyed with elation he had never known, not even upon Elevation and Induction.
He stood as straight as he might a head below the slobbering bit of the black destrier and looked up with no little trepidation into the face of Justice Claret, a grin with crusading zeal, his waste-burned bronze face contrasting starkly with his beard of silver and snow, his falchion-cleft nose and eye acting like a crossbow sight for his one blazing ocularius, dancing an icy grey under that silver brow.
Leaning straight upon his dolphin-headed crook of ivory, shifting his cowl back upon his shoulders, shifting unfamiliarly in his walking boots, and forcing himself to meet that baleful visage, bringing one hand to the rosary at his breast from which the dolphin borne image of the Blessed Mother shone above Christ upon the Cross, he intoned as manfully as possible, “Justice Claret, Our Lady of Angels blesses us with your presence.”
The fierce man, old enough to be his grandsire, snarled, “Prentice, the gargoyles yet bray, the breath of the Hinterbeast yet plays down the Passages of Damnation. Why do you not sing within the Sanctuary?”
Only the banners flapping in the wind provided the context for his response, as the Dozen Sanguine Apostles of Justice Claret observed a stark silence, as did, eerily, their bone-crushing steeds.
“Justice Claret, The Blessed Mother of God bade me with a painted tear to admonish the Hinterbeast, to stand upon its icy tongue and cast out the demons that possess its hunger for Christendom. Acolyte Wells and Servitor Bund attend my person and the Holy Relics. The Mysteries shall accompany us.”
The legendary knight, his fiftieth winter in the saddle behind him, glared down into he who spoke on behalf of Blessed Mother Mary.
‘Blessed Mother, let me shrink not.’
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