by Elizabeth McCoy
A shadow steed looks roughly like a black horse (or other dominant riding beast), save that it has six legs -- the usual four in the usual places, and the extra two at the front and rear midline. Fortunately, considering this arrangement, they have no apparent gender. (Neither have they ever been observed in any actions that suggest courtship or mating; no one is quite sure where shadow steeds come from . . .)
Shadow steeds do not need to eat or drink, but they will if suitable food and water are available, and seem to enjoy this. Likewise, extremes of heat and cold do not harm them, but they act more comfortable in reasonable conditions. They probably need to breathe, as none have been seen underwater without riders (either both holding their breath, or both protected by magic or high-tech breathing spells/apparatus). They can be killed with mundane weapons, however.
The six legs of a shadow steed are amazingly limber; a shadow steed could play Twister and its back would remain perfectly level. They are -- despite being a little wider than a normal horse -- comfortable to ride, with no uncomfortable gaits. Indeed, in full gallop, shadow steeds can manage around fifty miles per hour! Furthermore, they can maintain this speed for hours, and require only minimal rest before starting up again. The rider is more likely to want more time to rest than the steed. Alas, they can carry only as much as an equivalent horse could -- though they, like mules, are . . .
This article originally appeared in the second volume of Pyramid. See the current Pyramid website for more information.
Article publication date: July 26, 2002
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