Guardians

Black Horse

Its mane is the smoke of unmoving traffic waiting to get onto the M1. Its hooves are the rusted and sparking steel of railway girders. Its eyes gleam like the last drag of a cigarette before the end of the night. Its scream is twisting metal and emergency brakes.

The Black Horse guards the north-east half of London Under, from Becton to Amersham. It stands at the mouth of the M11 and hunts through Epping Forest. It catches the scent of arrivals at King's Cross, Paddington and Marylebone. Some say that its prints are potholes. Some call it Black Bess.

Gold Hawk

Its feathers are the gold wrappers of chocolate bars, and fallen sequins from saris. Its claws are the tips of park railings and broken beer bottles. Its eyes are the amber of traffic lights, and just as quick. Its cry is the whistle of old steam engines.

The Gold Hawk watches over the south-west half of London Under, from Woolwich Arsenal to Uxbridge. It patrols the airways of Heathrow Airport and sails over the Staines reservoirs. It nests in the towers of Battersea Station and hunts for prey from Richmond Park to Dartford Heath. No idiot's tried to give it a name yet.

Silver Dragon

The dragon of London City, the guardian of the Square Mile. Its wings are veined with sodium filaments, its breath is the roar of the Tube and its talons are as big as bollards. Anyone who claims to have seen it properly is either mad or lying or both. Probably both.

The Silver Dragon protects the ancient city walls, the eight gates, the twenty-five wards and the Palladium Stone at Cannon Street. The ravens of the Tower and the Bow Bells are its canaries. If they crack, the Dragon is battling and the city has a problem. Domine Dirige Nos.

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