The foal was born at midnight, torn from its wailing mother's belly with spears and and the many rugged hands of soldiers. Black blood and placenta was scraped away and the horse ingested its first lungful of air. It was force fed a mixture of its mother's milk and blood, and shivered alone in the barn, watched at a distance by the leader of the regiment. A fire was lit and voices chanted their relief that the newborn horse was covered in shaggy black hair as was prophesized.
A trainer was appointed. He was a tall man, muscular and scarred from battle, but older and no longer fit to fight honorably. He trained the horse as substitution for state sanctioned death and considered the post an honor instead of a punishment. He carried an iron staff, and made the foal walk its first morning by prodding it up. He was careful never to touch the hide with his hands or bare skin. There were women soldiers there, acolytes of the mare goddess, who could touch its skin and who fed it until it could fed itself on grain and grass.
Each day the trainer came and spent the day, and the foal grew to learn all the steps and gaits that would be expected of him in battle. He whipped the horse and beat its legs and taught it to stand straight and ignore its fears. He taught it to charge and bite and many young soldiers volunteered their bodies for it to consume in practice. The trainer looked at the foal with cold but admiring eyes, and knew that once the horse was grown, his death would come, and he was satisfied.
Each night the foal would stand in the barn, and when he could not sleep he looked back out at the rows upon rows of worshipers that came to chant and pray at his hooves. And when he could not look or listen to them any longer, he looked at the dark hills on the horizon and wondered what was there.
As the years passed the foal grew large, twice the size of a normal horse, and his hair reached down an inch from the ground. Each month his measurements were passed among the soldiers and worshipers and filled their chests with pride and expectation. When he grew to his adult height, he was fitted with heavy armor, spikes and chains, and a helmet with a piercing lance. He looked fearful and when his mouth ran red with the blood of a sacrificiant soldier, worshipers cheered.
Finally the trainer retired, and the horse had one day without the sting of the iron staff or a whip. He slept through the day as the women soldiers washed his hair, then decorated it with brambles. They cut the hair of his tail short, and the hairs were distributed amongst the worshipers to be worn woven into their own hair. He awoke to see and smell smoke on the horizon, beyond the dark hills.
When night fell, he was led by a phalanx of women soldiers from the barn to a road made of flat stones. They walked through the night towards the hills, and arrived at the crest near midnight. There were soldiers fighting with wood and metal and gunpowder, but the horse did not realize that there were sides. The women chanted angrily, working themselves up, and slapping the horse's flank until he reared, and then the fighting paused as both sides saw how enormous and unnatural he was.
His feet came down thunderously, and he lurched and gorged the nearest soldier. The women soldiers screamed their delight and hit him more. He reared and shook the man from his helmet, and found another. He gnashed at their leather and skin, and heard their cries. One by one the enemy soldiers engaged the women, fighting with hot metal and stinging steel flails, and in their superior numbers the enemy soldiers cut them done.
The horse was surrounded by panting soldiers, mud-caked and bleeding. They encircled him with spears, the tips white hot and crackling with electricity. The horse stood still, human blood soaking his long hair and dripping onto the bodies of the fallen in rivulets. He snorted and turned his big eyes to each of them. They stood their ground but trembled. The horse looked past their battlefield and into the distance saw a land burned by war, with fires glowing orange and tall buildings in ruin, and he did not comprehend what he saw but felt the size of it, the hopelessness.
He reared up and wailed out, baring his teeth and stretching out his forelimbs, trying to touch the distant sky.
The enemy soldiers moved in as one, and pierced the horse's soft belly. Blood and intestines gushed out before the horse's hooves met the ground again. Steam and smoke rose up from the wound. The soldiers pulled back, their eyes wide at what they had done. The horse snorted and stumbled. He looked at the enemy again and felt his insides draining out of him. He lost his footing and fell to his side, crush the bodies of the already fallen.
The men around him dropped their spears, numb. Some chanted fearfully. They had won but had killed the living incarnation of their god. The horse looked up at the sky and saw pinpricks of light, and wondered what they were.