Excerpt: ‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

We’re very excited about the release of Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy, the third anthology in The Insignia Series. As a preview, we’ll be sharing excerpts from all the stories over the next few days, beginning with ‘Horse Feet’, a paranormal mystery by Filipino author, Celestine Trinidad.


‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

Maria stood before the large black horse bound to one of the trees, feeling a sudden and completely uncharacteristic pang of pity for the creature. A circle of salt had been drawn on the ground, keeping the tikbalang enclosed within its borders. Someone had thrown salt at the creature itself as well –crystals glimmered in its mane, and the portions of its skin where the salt had touched it looked raw and red, like fresh burn marks.

“He’s been like that since we caught him, Lady Sinukuan,” the man standing behind her said. Kapitan Alfredo, the captain of the village of Wakas, Tayabas, was a short and stocky man, his bald head only reaching up to Maria’s shoulders. “He hasn’t said anything, except when he asked for you.”

“That is unusual, indeed,” Maria said. “Most of the time I have trouble just getting him to shut up.”

“He said that he was under your protection, My Lady. Was he speaking the truth?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose he is,” Maria replied.

“How do you know him?”

“He is—” Maria was about to say, ‘a suitor’, but stopped herself in time. That was what she thought he was in the beginning, indeed, just one out of the many suitors who sought the hand of the guardian diwata of Arayat in marriage. But—as much as she loathed to admit it—he turned out to be more than that, unsolicited though his help had been. Under the circumstances, she felt that she should acknowledge him this time. “He has been of great assistance to me in some of my other cases.” She hoped he really was unconscious, for if he had heard speak like this, she would never hear the end of it. “What has he done, Kapitan, for him to deserve a death sentence?”

“Murder,” Kapitan Alfredo said bluntly.


“One of my servants, Ernesto, had been missing since dinner last night,” Kapitan Alfredo explained. “My son Felipe went to look for him, and he found Ernesto’s body in the forest. And then he saw this creature running away from the scene.”

Maria’s eyebrows furrowed as she considered the matter. “And how was Ernesto killed?”

“Trampled to death, it looked like.  I saw the body myself. There were all these bruises in the shape of a horse’s hooves all over his body. Exactly how a tikbalang would kill a human.”


Celestine Trinidad’s Profile Page

Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy Page


Want to write for the next Insignia anthology?

See our new Submissions Page


More Excerpts:

‘Horse Feet’ by Celestine Trinidad

‘The Third Eye’ by Sheenah Freitas

‘Interlude’ by Eve Shi

‘The Island’ by Melvin Yong

‘Running from Shadows’ by Joyce Chng

‘Never Seen’ by Kelly Matsuura

‘Spirit of Regret’ by Eliza Chan


Insignia Series News: Open Submissions and more!

Hi everyone, hope you’re having a great week!

I just wanted to do a quick post today to let you know what I’ve got planned for The Insignia Series blog and anthologies.

Have you seen the new Submissions Page? If you are a short fantasy writer, you may be interested to browse the Submission Call information for Insignia 3: Southeast Asian Fantasy Stories. The deadline to submit work is August 31, so mark your calendars and start brainstorming! I’m looking for a mix of authors and speculative fiction sub-genres, so don’t be scared to send me something a bit ‘out there’. I’ll love it.

Also on the Submissions Page, I have a special request for a couple more Chinese stories for Insignia 2. This anthology was published last year and I love every story in it, however I’d like to add 2 or 3 more if I can get them. This is to bring the page count up in anticipation of doing paperback copies in the near future, and having it the same length as Insignia 1. I did make a deadline of June 30 for this, but if I don’t get any submissions by then I’ll probably leave it as an open request. If you are interested in writing a piece for this call but need more time, please contact me to discuss it.

And, I have a tentative plan for Insignia 4: Tsukumogami Stories! Seeing that Japanese fantasy is especially popular, I decided it would be fun to do another Japanese anthology with a more focused theme. I’ll write some fresh stories for this collection too.

What else is news? Oh yes, I’m also redesigning the series’ covers! I hope to have them all done by the end of the month, including the cover for Insignia 3 and new artwork for this blog too. It’s all happening!

I really hope you all like the changes 🙂

Kelly Matsuura


Any questions? Email me: blackwingsandwhitepaper@hotmail.com