My friends over at the Smash Fiction podcast just put out their latest battle, an equestrian engagement amongst some of fiction's finest horses. I highly recommend checking it out HERE.
Yes, Epona, Shadowfax, Maximus, and Agro. All fine and lovely horsies. And you know what? The episode is pretty good. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say this. The episode is a lie.
All these horses are merely racing for second place because the god of horses was excluded from this match. I'd be more upset, but I understand that they need to have some sense of drama and suspense, and how could you possibly have that when this glorious creature is in the battle?
This is Red Hare, the fastest damned horse in all of ancient China. You know what he has over those other four horses? He was freakin' real (maybe?). Introduced to western audiences through the Dynasty Warrior series, Red Hare has always been the most badass steed in every game... even occasionally in Samurai Warriors, the spin-off based on Japanese history. This horse transcends time!
This horse was said to be able to run 1000 li in a single day and 800 in a single night. Li is an ancient Chinese measure of distance that relates to roughly half a kilometer. Now a good horse can travel approximately 60 miles in a day if they're really booking it. This measurement means that Red Hare could travel 559 miles in a 24 hour period.
And this horse didn't let just anyone ride him, in real life or in the game. If you manage to knock his rider off in most Dynasty Warrior titles and attempt to steal him... he bucks your unworthy ass right the hell off! Because you know who was worthy to ride him? Two men.
Lu God Damned Bu! This man was the single greatest warrior of the Han Dynasty and his name is mentioned with reverence among any who know him. Think I'm making this up? Watch the Super Best Friends on YouTube and you're fairly likely to stumble across a reference to Lu Bu in their videos. In fact, in the Super Best Friends subreddit they have a thread asking who would win in a fight between Lu Bu and the big bad from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio. The thread is overwhelmingly on Lu Bu's side and provides this clip as evidence.
WARNING: Excessive violence and blood.
Please take notice that even after Red Hare is beheaded in that clip, he still manages to kill someone.
Point is, Lu Bu, whom the historical epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms says fought off the three greatest generals of the land simultaneously, who's quote in one of the Dynasty Warriors: Empires games is "If two sides are equal in strength, the side with me shall be victorious," is one of the only two men Red Hare deemed worthy to ride atop him. It was said of the pair by the warlord Cao Cao "Among men, Lu Bu. Among horses, Red Hare."
The only other man the horse found worthy to ride him was a man responsible for Lu Bu's defeat and death: Guan Yu, China's literal GOD OF WAR.
You know you're badass if the Chinese government spends obscene amounts of money erecting a giant statue of you that captures the glory of your perfect beard. And this man, this deity, was the only other person Red Hare found worthy to ride him.
If you don't believe me, observe this actual video filmed back in the Han Dynasty.
This horse never tires. You can kill enemy generals in Dynasty Warriors by running them over with Red Hare. He can find you anywhere on the map. He is massive. He can spirit you from one end of the map to the other in the blink of an eye. Red Hare is not quick; he is sudden.
But... I suppose it wouldn't have been fair to include this god of horses in Smash's battle. They do have a "no gods" rule.
PS. Runner up for me is the undead horse from Elder Scrolls. Your mission to get him is simply "Behold Shadowmere." He's an undead horse that stomps dragons to death. Good horsie.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.