While continuing my endless pondering of fantasy stories, one supporting character stands common: the creature that carries either a main character or supporting characters. In medieval dark fantasy, usually it’s horses with special intelligence or abilities, or Pegasus-like creatures, as in thestrals in Harry Potter, or the last, but not least, dragon riders. The sandworms in “Dune” I’d say would be travel on a whole different level.
In fantasy we’re drawn often to wings. I understand this, as when I see birds out of my window I’m amazed at the effortless flight and hope they don’t drop “gifts” on my car. We know horses don’t have wings, but as kids, we’ve seen pictures of Pegasus, so wouldn’t it be cool to have a horse like that? Or with unicorns, what if a horse had a long horn? I admit my little girl enthusiasm for unicorns faded quickly as I turned on to dragons, which I never recovered.
Considering that horse thieving was punishable by hanging at one time, the need of transportation should not be discounted in fantasy stories. Not all fantasy stories require geographical travel, but in those that do give the new author an excellent opportunity to create your own fantasy steed. I decided the means by which Shevata could move in and out of Hell could be the use of a horse born in hell that could leap into either world. She named him Stalen, and he bribes a precious gem or gold piece with every trip or eats the rider if not paid. (Well, he was born in hell).
Fantasy mounts can lead the story as gentle friendly beings, or lead as part of combat, as in warhorses or dragons. Writers can create close friendships or conditional cooperation, as in Shevata and Stalen. However it’s done, the various types of rides make for a memorable supporting character in the world of fantasy.