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Monster Horse Beastie

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MonsterHorseBeastieportrait

Quote: "SKREEONK!"

The Monster Horse Beastie, MHB for short, is a construct -- at least one would hope that the forces of nature couldn't create such a gross thing, only a Spark could -- encountered by Master Payne's Circus of Adventure. It does bear some resemblance to the creatures changed by the waters of the Dyne between the springs expansion and it's harnessing to power Castle Heterodyne. Whether that would be classified as "Natural" or "Construct" or something in between is not definitive. It's a classic wolf-in-sheep's-, or more accurately horse's-, clothing; the first time it's seen (here ), it appears to be a garden-variety horse that helpfully brings Abner back from his journey in the wilderness, after throwing Gil off Agatha's trail. The only hint at that point that it might be other than what it appears to be is a curious reluctance to let anyone look it in the mouth, gift horse or not.

Once night falls, however (isn't it remarkable how all the spooky stuff happens at night?), this horse undergoes a frightful transformation . It snorts! It growls! It has sharp teeth! It grows horns! It's impervious to normal weapons![1] It breathes fire ! Which is to say, it generally turns into just the kind of nightmare that you really don't want running around your camp.

MonsterHorseBeastie2

Quote: "RHAA!"

Eventually the MHB succumbs to the combined ministrations of Smilin' Stev (who's rather the worse for wear from the fight, if not out of commission entirely), Zeetha (who finds to her dismay that beheading the critter isn't terminal if it has —or develops— another, even toothier mouth in its chest), and above all, Agatha , wielding one of her trademark death rays. Lars, who's on watch as it turns from beast of burden to beast of prey, has a completely understandable panic attack once the shooting and shouting is done, and has to be calmed down and allowed to sleep by the comforting presence of Agatha and her death ray, since the usual Calming Pie isn't up to the job -- which has important consequences later.

All manner of interesting things follow from this small but life-threatening adventure. In addition to Lars' emotional upset and Agatha's portentous tending to him, Abner and Pix, who stay up all night making sure the MHB's remains are well cinderized, have a good, long talk , and emerge with their relationship ... changed. More important yet, it's in this sequence that Agatha realizes that the Circus conceals quite a number of Sparks. This is important for a number of reasons. She figures out that using the Circus for her own concealment has its advantages. She learns from Master Payne that there's more to this Spark business than the stereotypical mad-scientist, scion-of-a-noble-family view that she's had to date. And above all, she figures out that this Circus needs some more serious defenses, and sets to work designing them -- which will save an impressive number of lives, notably her own, later.

All told, not a bad outcome for a battle with a real live nightmare.

Incidentally, those who cavil at the assignment of a cutesy-putesy name like "Monster Horse Beastie" are invited to take it up with the Foglios. Well, not really, please don't, but do note that on the official Girl Genius pages, the story arc where the MHB does its thing bears exactly the Monster Horse Beastie title, and they themselves so named it. Soit.


It might be that Othar Tryggvassen bought this horse and named it "Spooky."

References

  1. Note that "normal weapons" is something of a relative term in Girl Genius. The Gatling-gun-like firearm that Dame Aedith uses on the MHB is probably a "normal" weapon by most criteria. The Sonic Gun, Gravity engine, and poisonous Sky Wyrms, however, are "normal" only by the not-so-normal standards of our story.

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