Background: Tomb Cataphracts

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  • Background: Tomb Cataphracts

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    Dear Joanna, I close my eyes and picture you every
    day. I want to hold you close to me again, now
    more than ever. The Caravan was attacked three
    days ago, but thank Sunna, I am safe.
    One of the women in our caravan spotted a dust
    cloud to the north. Looking through my spyglass,
    I could pick out five dark shapes in the murk,
    which I showed to Hassan, the caravan master.
    I have never seen the blood drain from a man’s
    face so fast. The image of what descended on us
    from out of the dust is burned into my memory.
    Five stone beasts, ridden by grinning skeletons.
    They took different shapes — serpent, crocodile,
    camel, monstrous scarab beetle and bird — but
    Joanna, they were living statues, foul facsimiles of
    life, built from coloured stone and embossed with
    gold. They fell upon us with terrifying speed.
    Hassan called for the caravan to split into three
    groups. The creatures attacked the northern group
    with brutal efficiency. To their credit, the men there
    brought down one of the monsters — the huge bird
    — before they were overpowered. One moment it
    was wreaking carnage, the next, it tumbled into
    pieces like some child’s discarded plaything. To our
    astonishment, the remaining four creatures just
    turned and left, though I am sure they could have
    overtaken the rest of us if they chose.
    I long to talk with you more about this, for I’m
    sure your mind could find some wondrous insight
    that I have missed. I shall probably head north to
    trade somewhere safer, though I have more than
    half a mind to travel home with this letter.
    Yours with love, Oscar.
    Letter found aboard the wreck
    of the Empress Matilda, in 912 A.S.

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