Spoiler: I do go on a bit...

"The first thing I can remember is the side of a mountain. Some men had fitted reins to me - or maybe they found me with them? My memory is a little fuzzy that far back. Either way, they were leading me down the mountain. In those days, it was a struggle to keep up. I was very small.

Those men did not really want me, it seems. For once we reached the first town of the foothills, they sold me. I almost wish I knew how much I had been worth as a foal. It is always nice to have some idea how far you have come along, hm?

My new owners ran a travelling circus. Initially, they just treated me like a weird pony - I was tied to a stake in a field, and children could ride me for a couple of coppers a time. It was fun having other children to play with, but there were limits as to what I could do - the rope, the men watching that the child didn't get to stay on longer than their parents had paid for...

So I tried running away. It wasn't hard, to tell the truth. Even when I was little, dragging a stake out of the ground or gnawing through a rope weren't exactly hard tasks for me. Plus I could see better in the dark than my owners could.

But once I was out, then the problems started. It was quite a shock, I tell you, finding out just how 'welcoming' society was once I was on my own. It started with scared people running at the sight of me. Then progressed up to gangs of people cornering me... I was facing down the business end of a number of spears when my owners caught up and collected me.

When they brought me back, the ringmaster began to explain things to me. Told me about the war. About how the monsters had been killed off, to protect the humans. And... about what would happen to me, if I tried striking out on my own.

I was rather better behaved after that point.

As time passed, I grew too big for pony duty. They tried a few other acts for me, before I settled into a role as the circus' strongman. It made sense, after all - long before I'd grown to full size I was the strongest thing in the circus, short of its pair of tame elephants. My speciality was the tug-of-war tournament. Any four people from the towns we visited could haul a chain or hawser against me for five silver coins. If they won, they got the pot. At the end of the evening, the day's best teams were called back, and allowed to go at me in ever-increasing numbers. It usually took 7 or 8 to shift me.

I ended with a pretty good record - only two losses to four-person teams. But, to be fair on this point... that was because the second team to beat me, bought me.

That second loss was to a team of Gladiators. They'd taken me on as a way of publicising their troupe, but I did well enough to impress their trainer. He was always short of wild beasts for his charges to fight in front of the crowds, and... well, a Centaur was a perfect buy. Better than he'd expected, actually - it didn't take long for me to start picking up the skills the gladiators were using against me, and I was fast becoming a proficient warrior.

Eventually, they began billing me as a gladiator in my own right. I'm not too fond of the image they gave me - barbarian furs were just the start. People were told I was wild, untamed, with the words of pagan gods screaming through my brain... load of nonsense, really, but it sold the tickets that paid my keep, so I can hardly complain. That's where I got my name - my current name. I was asked to name myself something fierce and warlike in my people's tongue. Alala - 'Warcry' - fit the bill, plus it was easy to remember. Which, I was told, was the point. I had to stick in the public's mind so they'd want to watch me a second time...

My chain dates back to around that time, too. I needed a 'barbaric' weapon, but their greataxes weren't big enough for me. So I improvised one day with 20' of chains... the crowd loved it, and my weapon of choice was born!

Like most other gladiators who start to make a name for themselves, I was eventually sent out on tour. Meet fresh crowds and charge them double your normal prices, that sort of thing. Since I was supposed to be this raging monster, they took some extra 'precautions' when moving me. I was allowed to keep pace with the caravan myself, but I was always hooded and ridden, with my arms chained together behind my back. True, the chains were padded (and would have been about as effective as leaves at restraining me if I'd actually wanted to go somewhere), and the hood was so thin I could see perfectly well through it. But the appearance was maintained.

In the end, my success got to me. A far... richer... promoter bought me. I learned something important then - humans generally don't get to be rich by being nice. Fake restraints became real manacles. Encouragement became threats, whips, and drugs in the food to keep me docile. Fights to first blood increasingly became fights to the death.

The fun, in short, was taken out of my career.

Well, I mentioned earlier that chains couldn't hold me if I really wanted to leave. And it turns out, I was right. I spent two days faking illness so I'd be clear-headed at night. Then I waited until things were quiet, spent all of two minutes ripping my chains apart, collected my equipment and ran.

Which is what I'm doing now.

Getting away's pretty easy. I was a much better fighter than the guards trying to stop gladiators escaping. I'm fast, even by horse standards. And I can fly! These wings aren't just for decoration, you know. Makes me pretty hard to track once I'm out of sight. With an entire night's head start, they were never going to find me.

....I just...


...wish I knew where I was going....

Alala the Winged Centaur Warblade is here! At least, the IL 8/Just escaped version is.