Bert saw this and stopped along the dirt road, leaning against his walking stick. He shifted the shaft of wheatgrass in his teeth and spat. He did have business to attend to, and it was that direction.
The Presider had been the one to draw the dagger from the heart of the sacrifice, to watch as it burst into flame, and he had lit the brazier as he spake His name. He had been the first to die after The One Who Rode walked again. The ceremony was something primeval; one that has been performed regularly for millenia. In the lost Age When The Ancients Walked, He rode. At first, He rode atop a horse. That was in time before man spoke, let alone rode horses; before the concept of a centaur by an aeon. In later times, He rode atop a motorcycle before Carnot could crawl. And now, in a time when horses were as extinct as fossil fuel and the sky had grown reddish-brown, He rode atop an abominable hybrid. Part machine, part equine skeleton; at the fore it bore the skull of a horse. His Horse. Its exhaust, though it could burn no gasoline, came through the nostrils. Its Rider licked an insect from His teeth, crunched it, and swallowed it with delight.
Bert thought The Rider seemed in quite a hurry.
And finally, they met.
The Ancient Rider thought simply to run Bert down, but Bert suddenly cut and ran from the path. All the better sport. Bert was by all physical and mental standards a normal man, which is not to say average as were he entirely average, he would be inherently abnormal. He had strengths and weaknesses, to be sure, but none of these were actually superhuman. But run he did, and impressively so for one so dwarfed in stature, age, and pure power. Straight lines were the enemy, or at least the ally of his pursuer. And so Bert wove and bobbed, zagged and zigged; in such a fashion that he managed to hold off the Relic Stallion and its Rider. For all its power, the undead machine could not conquer the very reality of its enormous turning radius whilst at speed, and this was something Bert held to his advantage.
Again, this was a hilly country. So when Bert disappeared behind a rise, The Ancient Rider simply changed gears and accelerated. Recall that the skulls He had in tow weighed many tons and dragged behind Him in such a multitude as to form a mountainous shape. Though The Rider was indeed Ancient with a capital letter, He was only recently renewed. Perhaps a princess would have been able to feel the barest tug as Bert's weight—effectively a pea's—was added to The Giant's mass. But Ancients are not to be fooled for long, and failing to see Bert fleeing to His fore, He braked and spun pivoting on the forewheel; the rear wheel carving a furrow in the Earth that would remain even after He were gone for The Final Time. The whip soundly cracked, Bert bore the greatest angular momentum and was flung forward as he lost his grip on the skulls. The blood had rushed out of his head momentarily from the force upon him. He tumbled like a ragdoll, limp arms and all, for several hundred yards in the direction away from that which The Ancient Rider now faced. He scrambled to his feet and sprinted for his staff, still heading in the direction from which his pursuer had come.
Why he'd bothered to grab the old walking stick he did not know, but it was just as well as he suddenly needed to plant it so that he could vault a chasm that, a mile to his left, was safely bridged by the road's crossing. He had no time for bridges, roads, or thought; and the pole was planted rather automatically. Thusly, Bert crossed the crack in the Earth without slowing down. Neither the Relic Stallion nor its Rider remembered the gully, however, and the front wheel caught on the lip of the far side, pitching The Ancient end over end to land soundly on His feet upon the leaf-strewn ground before Bert, who stumbled to a halt. The Ancient Rider, unhorsed, drew His own great staff which bore atop its shaft the skeletal head of a great beast with two curled and hoary horns; gnarled and warped as by the same primordial chaos that shaped this monstrosity that stood before Bert now, menacing his existence and, in fact, any existence not His own. A monstrosity, to be sure, though His every aspect was like man, but moreso. He was beyond man as He was before Bert now. And so they fought.
The Ancient Rider brought the onslaught, rather, and Bert did his best to dodge about. He did manage to get in a few smacks and trips with his stick now and then, which is really the best you can expect in this case. Bert, however, was somehow managing to wear the newly respawned Anomaly down. In His body for so short a time and away from His mount, He was not so nearly indomitable as a being beyond Creation should be. And so when His great staff had become wedged in the ground after a particularly fierce blow which missed its target entirely, and after His great fist had smashed Berton's walking stick to splinters; when they finally came to grapple, His strength was not much more than Bert's. Not much in the sense that the lifetime of a blue supergiant is not much longer than that of a struck match, in the cosmic sense of reckoning. Still, Bert fought valiantly, giving at just the right times to roll back and gain greater leverage. The wind stirred again and whipped the combatants.
In the end, Bert was pinned underneath the bulk of The Assailant; the sun now setting behind the mountain of skulls. And The Ancient Rider strained so that He could feel Bert's bones give and crack and break below Him. Bert simply smiled as he gathered enough breath to blow a passing leaf into the face of The Eternal. For it had been the last leaf blocking the mouth of the cavern. All of them had been dislodged by the wrestling of the combatants and now the winds penetrated the cavern's naked orifice, all rushing to feed the raging flame within. But so great was their surge that it was extinguished.
The Ancient Rider, outmaneuvered somehow by this mortal, had wrought his own undoing. Bert, still smiling and breathing a bit more easily as the vanquished Ancient recoiled, opened his lips and bade: "Farewell, EDDIGAN," exactly as he had dreamt the night before. He Who Rides knew His name was a secret only spoken at the beginning and end of His incarnation each time He came to Earth, and was so defeated; as His flame once again was cold.
Once upon his feet, Berton dusted himself down and then up again, put his hands in his pockets, and walked back towards the road in the direction of his business again. He placed his hands in the pockets of his overalls and whistled merrily, no longer troubled by his terrible nightmares.
But of course, He Who Rode would ride again, when Bert's bones were less than dust, and again when whatever remained of them was consumed by the heart of a star. And again.