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The Unicorn among Men

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She lays at the edge of the water, peaceful as every Unicorn is that cannot regret. She was the first to be pushed into the sea, and she is the only one allowed to do this thing. The Bull is sorry to do this, and takes pity on the one he tricked. All he had done was asked her to follow, and she had. She had no reason to distrust. She would have felt curious, if she could.

Then she stepped into the sea and felt the magic trap her there. She had turned to him, the castle behind him, and had whinnied to him. She felt no sorrow for herself, for She did not know the feeling, but she could feel something for this Red Bull.

And now the Last of Them walks towards her and she steps onto the beach. Water at her feet, sea salt in her coat and mane, horn gleaming still with her inner light she whinnies to the Last in warning. The Bull bellows again, corralling the Last closer to the water. She stomps her hooves and arches her neck defiantly with her sister now, rearing up and lunging for him. She cannot leave the water, but that won't stop her from protecting her littlest sister.

The Last makes the Bull retreat, and finaly the curse is broken. Her sisters flow out of the water and circle around the Last, some greeting her and others leaving for their forests right away. The Last simply walks to a fallen human outside of the cave and lays down there, head on his chest. She sorrows as no unicorn should be able. Her eldest sister looks on from the edge of the Ocean.

The First approaches her, not yet free of the salt and brine of the ocean as she nearly feels pity for her youngest sister. So she nickers to her gently, causing her head to raise up before she pushes her horn into the humans chest, deep into his heart. She puts magic in him, and a warning. Never forget. The man gasps, and she withdraws, allowing him to sit up and to see her littlest sister. Her coat dims just slightly. She is still infinity, just lesser now. She gives her farewell to the Last.

With that done she turns away, ready to leave this castle by the sea for good to return to her Forrest.

 

But-

 

There is a city where her Forrest used to be, full of humans and horses and carts and so many other things. She wanders it lost, remembering where the streams and caves and creatures used to live. She draws much attention to herself by wandering loose around the city, no halter or rope to mark her as belonging to anyone. All they see is a white horse, built to run.

A group of young men approach her later in the afternoon, and she lets them pet her. All have a pure heart, and they are able to see her for what she is. They guide her to the east side of the city, and put her in a building with several horses. She is put in a stall and fed an apple by the purest one before they leave her.

Three of the group return with an older man- he too can see her for what she is. She keeps her head dropped low, she would feel sad, she thinks, if she could. The older man enters the stall and strokes her shoulder, his hands running through her mane. It is still filled with salt, as is her coat. It catches on his hands, and he brings it to his nose.

"She smells like the sea." He comments to his sons, who just now notice the sea salt smell of her. "She must be tired from a long journey if she smells like the sea this far inland. Give the poor girl a wash and a rub down. Keep her well."

The men treat her well, and the stable boy is in awe of her. He calls her what she is, and takes care to keep her comfortable. He sings silly songs to her, trys to make her happy. She would adore him, if she could. So she settles for listening. She likes this boy. (She thinks she would love, if she could)

She has no concept of time, as she has no need of it, but the boy says it has been a month. Time for someone to ride her, he says. The Lords sons come to watch as the stable boy puts a saddle on her back and a bit in her mouth. She wouldn't like it, if she could. But for them she allows it.

The boy leads her out and into an empty field, bordered by a tall fence she could clear if she wanted to. The lords eldest son approaches her and talks to her, then he lifts himself onto her back. She saw other men do this on horses, but she is still confused when he nudges her sides.

She nickers and turns her neck to look at him. He does it again, and the boy urges her forward. So she walks. When they near the fence the man pulls her head left and she stops. She looks at him. He pulls gently again, urging her forward. Ah. Turn.

So she turns left and continues to walk, turning left again at his gentle pull on the reins. After a circle He clicks his mouth and taps her side. She thinks this means faster? So she picks up and trots.

"That is the smoothest trot I have ever laid eyes on. " an older man, bearded and wide calls from the fence.

"I could hold a full cup and never spill a drop. " the one on her back says back to him, urging her faster again. She falls into a slow canter smoothly, paying attention to the man on her backs movements.

"Try her all out, see how fast she goes. " the man at the fence orders, and she perks her ears. Full out? Why? For fun, she assumes.

She didn't wait for the nudge, just lengthens her stride and lowers her head a ways. The man on her back laughs, not having to tell her to turn. They circle twice before he pulls her head back, and she slows to a slow trot. She slows more as he manuvsrs her to the gate and his brothers at the fence, dropping from her back to let her rest.

She is not tired, nor sweating or out of breath. It takes much more than a little more weight and a short run to tired any Unicorn, let alone the oldest of them. The sons notice her shuffle her feet. She would like to run again.

"She nary broke a sweat, Tholm. " the pure one states as they stare at her now. She knickers and tosses her head at them, ready to move. She doesn't like the stall they put her in. She likes to roam. She roamed the land once. She roamed the ocean as well. She thinks she would like to wander Man next.

"Well, whose next?" Her rider asks as she prances in place. She tosses her head again as one of the other brothers steps up. She stills so he may mount up, then she trots off. He urges her faster, and she tosses her head- the halter jingles- and takes off. The rider laughs with her and stands in the stirups, whooping as they pass his brothers.

This goes on with every brother until the youngest- pure and sparkling- mounts up. She prances a bit, tossing her head at his grip on the reins. He keeps them short, keeps her slow. She snorts and decides to be contrary. She prances sideways, bouncing him. She picks up a dance and ignores him as he attempts to pull her to a stop. His brothers are laughing now, and she tosses her head playfully as he pulls even more.

"God save me BOY GIVE THE LADY HER HEAD!!" the Horsemaster hollers it at the young teen. Instead of giving her her head he drops the reins entirely. She tosses her head and goes from a hopping gate to a smooth trot. The boy leans down a hugs her neck tightly. She comes to a screeching halt, staying very still.

"Sit up, take the reins and let her have her head, boy." His oldest brother stands beside him now, smile in place. "Ask, and she will give it to you. Just keep hold. "

She tosses her head and turns her neck to look at him. He stares back before tapping her sides very gently. She walks forward, snorting at the pace but allowing it for now. One lap and he taps her sides again, and she slides into a trot. He gives a small laugh and does it again. She falls into a smooth canter, tossing her head gently and flashing her tail. He give it a lap before taping again. She lengthens her stride and they fly together.

She tosses her head and her horn catches the light and the cheering from the sidelines goes silent in awe of her. She decides to clear the fence, and gathers herself before leaping it. Her rider gasps loudly before pulling her left, and slowing her down. She trots over to the group of brothers and walks the final steps until she stops. She is not panting, or sweating. She is fine, as any Unicorn would be.

"She isn't a horse." The oldest brother states plainly, and she snorts at him while pawing the ground. She still smells like the salt of the sea- she doubts that will ever go away. She was in the ocean much longer than the others, and she went willingly. Tricked, but willing none the less.

"No. I'm not a horse." She tells them and they listen. "But I would like to stay."

 

 

And that is what happened. She stays with them, and she is the houses new Banner. A running Unicorn on a sea of blue. The boys turn into men, and she is the Royal mount now. Her stable boy stays with her- his daughter is adorable, and small, and frail- and the King asks something of her.

Evil savages marches on them, and he wants her safe. She tosses her head and reminds him what she is when her horn flashes. She cannot be hurt. The King calls her brave. She doesn't feel brave. She tells him so.

"We march to meet them. Attempt peace, before they reach the city." He says, later. She paws the ground and asks when they leave.

 

 

She trots in front with no rider or tack, coat gleaming and mane flowing, horn shining with the magic of her kind. Her boys follow behind with the army, her King following beside her on his pich black war horse. She prances, tossing her head as the Vikings come into sight. They are covered in furs and armor, their horses strange paint and tack.

The armys halt and she walks forward still, no pause in her step. She calls to the horses on the other side, and most answer in greeting. It has been a long time sense they have seen a Unicorn. Many- most, in fact- of the Vikings can see her for what she is. Open minds and open eyes.

She stops in front of the Viking leader and tosses her head at him. He steps forward and lays a dirty hand on her shoulder. She knickers at him, then at the Shaman behind him. The magical man steps forward and she tilts her head at him.

"We thought you all gone, Great one." The shaman says, and she lowers her head to look him in the eyes.

"Only For a while." She tells him gently, then lifts her head to a whinny from the Kings mount. "The Ocean was our prison for many years. The Last freed us, and now we wander again. Many Men no longer see us for what we are. Most men, actually." She shakes her mane.

"Will you talk peace?" She asks, and gets a yes. She nods and turns her side to the Cheif. "Come up, then." He does so. His army follows them back to her King, and a tent is set for the talks.

 

 

 

Later- much later, her boys are old men. She circles their children and grandchildren in the yard playing with them carefully. The youngest of her boys steps forward and calls to her. She stops in her play and trots over to him, ruffling his hair as she always has.

"You know you can leave, if you wanted?" He asks her. She tilts her head at her silly mortal. Of course she knows. She tells him so. "We will all be gone, soon. You are our banner, and our Lady, but you are not ours, dearest. You are free to go, explore as you once did so long ago."

"Silly men." She speaks to them all now, and they gather to her. "I have wandered everything the land has to offer, and the Ocean as well. I wander Man now, as you are a wonder I have never encountered before. Each is as different as they are the same. You have taught this Unicorn how to feel. Emotion"

She turns her head to the side to look back at the children.

"And I thank you for it."