He existed peacefully. The sun and soil nourished his spirit as he nourished theirs in return, and the wood gave him comfort, for he was never alone, yet never bothered by company. Everything was a part of him, he was made of the most raw of elements, and he was an essential part of everything he touched. Due to this, he could manipulate most things to his will, and his will was made of the purest of intentions. He was motivated by neither malice nor any great overflowing of love or kindness, a simple and clear innocence about him that was abrasive to most non-magic creatures (though he was quite unaware of this). Sherlock knew no other existence than the forest in which he lived, and he had no sense of the passage of time because his magic, his very being was eternal. So there he lived, not knowing true passion or true purpose, basking in endless spring, as was the way of the unicorns. Probably, he would have stayed that way forever, were it not for this one twist of fate.
A boy and an old man rode on their horses through his forest. This was not unusual, sometimes people passed through, and he usually couldn’t care less why. Yet he heard their chatter, and the word “unicorn” caught his attention (he might’ve been a bit vain, but let’s be real, to be a unicorn was to be a majestic and awe inspiring creature, he had reason to be proud).
“Eh, the feel of these woods, hunting won’t be good, creatures who live in a unicorn’s forest learn a bit of magic of their own in time. Mostly, the magic of disappearing,” the old man gruffly stated to his companion.
“Unicorns? I thought they only existed in fairy tales. Isn’t this a forest like any other?” asked the younger man rather incredulously.
“Ah, but the leaves never fall here! Or the snow for that matter. It looks like it's always spring here. There has to be at least one unicorn left in this world, and if this is its forest as I suspect, we won’t find any game here,” the old man intoned knowingly.
“Let’s hunt somewhere else then,” sighed the boy, and he turned his horse around, gesturing to his older mentor.
The old man still had something to say, however, “Stay in your forest great beast! This is a cruel world we live in. You may very well be the last of your kind, good luck to you!” and then he rode off with his fellow hunter.
Sherlock stood for a moment, processing this. He watched them go, and he wondered to himself aloud, “I’m the last?”
That night, Sherlock stared at his reflection in his favorite pond and pondered what he had heard once more. He was pretty sure that the old man was off his rocker. Just because the man had not seen or heard of a unicorn in awhile, that certainly didn’t mean they didn’t exist anymore. Sherlock still found himself…troubled, though. Logically, he knew what the old man said must be impossible, unicorns did not simply disappear, they were immortal after all, but…perhaps…perhaps he was jumping to conclusions. It wasn’t like he had ever left his forest and seen the world. Truly, he shouldn’t write off what the man had said as impossible, just, highly improbable.
Sherlock decided to sleep on it, in the morning, he would be able to think clearer.
Thank you for reading!
Chapter 2: The Butterfly
Sherlock encounters a certain butterfly
The next morning, he walked through his meadows, and he decided he should talk to someone, someone who had traveled and seen more of the world than he. How fortuitous then, that at that very moment, a butterfly came flying and singing merrily into his presence.
“Butterfly!” he called out, “Butterfly, talk to me! I wish to know, in all your travels, have you seen others like me?”
The butterfly proved himself most unhelpful, because all he did in reply was sing such annoying classic rock bard drivel as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Are You Gonna be My Girl”. Dull creature (Sherlock preferred classical bard music). Still, Sherlock was not so easily deterred.
“Butterfly! Or whatever you choose to call yourself, I wish to know what has become of the other unicorns!”
“I call myself Lestrade!
You might find the name odd!
Yet listen to me my little pretty
The ladies love my bod!” was all he got in response.
Okay, Sherlock was pretty sure the butterfly was being purposefully obtuse at this point. He huffed out a breath irritably and began to turn away, but the butterfly stopped him, flying around his head once more to catch his eye.
“Listen, no, listen to me! If you are brave you may find the others, they were driven away once long ago by the Red Bull. The Red Bull covered their tracks as they ran!”
Sherlock was skeptical, “The Red Bull? What is the Red Bull? Isn’t that a magic potion energy drink?”
The butterfly sighed as if he got that a lot, “No! NO! The OTHER Red Bull!” and as if Sherlock had offended him, he flew off across the meadow until he was out of sight, leaving Sherlock alone once more with his thoughts.
Chapter 3: A Whole New World
Sherlock leaves his forest, and encounters some "idiots".
Sherlock stood at the edge of his forest. All the creatures that he had provided for and protected stood behind him, silently waiting to see what he would do. Sherlock had made his decision, he was going to leave and seek out the other unicorns, but he found himself hesitating. He wasn’t really sure what was holding him back. It wasn’t the animals, they weren’t his friends, unicorns are solitary creatures, they don’t have friends. Nor was it fear of what lay beyond. Sherlock didn’t know why, but he had this sense of foreboding, that if he left his forest, something in his very essence would change forever. In his gut, he knew that if he ever returned here, he would not be the same as he was when he left. Almost, it felt like he was having a moment to grieve for his former self. Except, that wasn’t right. Unicorns did not know what it was to grieve, they didn’t know what it was to regret. What he was feeling was a kind of detached sorrow, which wasn’t quite the same thing.
Sherlock decided to make the separation quick, so with one more backward glance, he rushed forward, out of his forest and into the unknown. Wryly (and with undeniable self-satisfaction), as he put more distance between himself and his home, he realized that his conjecture had been right. Already, he felt different. He felt…excitement. He felt like he was free and he hadn’t even known he was imprisoned. It. Was. Glorious. He had never before known the high of having a mission, of doing something important. With a hysterical laugh, it occurred to him that he might never want to go back to his forest. After he found the others, he could explore other forests, he could do more than he had ever imagined! There was suddenly a wealth of possibilities and-
“What a pretty horse! Hey Sal, c’mere look at dis here stallion!”
Oh. Fabulous. Some idiot was mistaking him for a common thoroughbred. How very pedestrian and insulting.
“Oh Aaaaaandy! Can we keem im’?”
“Sure thang Sally my love, go and get the bridle!”
Sherlock was not impressed. They thought a mere bridle could hold him? Quaint. Sherlock was somewhat amused, however, so he decided to play along for a bit (contrary to popular belief, unicorns can lie. Like most faerie folk, trickery and deception come very naturally to them. Sherlock, for one, reveled in a bit of mischief now and then).
“Anderson honey, I gots the bridle!”
“Excellent! Okay, here now horsy horsy horsy, c’mere horsy.”
Sherlock let the moron get as far as touching the bridle to his head before promptly head butting him in the jaw and galloping away.
“Crazy psycheo-pithick horse!” he heard called after him, and all he could do was give a unicorn equivalent of a smirk.
For the record, I don't hate Anderson and Donovan, this story is from Sherlock's point of view however, so he's going to see them as dumb country bumpkins, when really they might be a bit isolated but they are honest farm folk who found what appears to be a stray horse and would be crazy to pass up such an opportunity!
Chapter 4: In Which Sherlock Makes a Mistake and We Meet a Certain Wizard
Sherlock isn't the only one who needs a purpose in life
As he traveled, Sherlock realized pretty quickly that most people couldn’t see his true form. Had he forgotten? He preferred to believe he had simply deleted the knowledge as useless information. Now though, he would be a fool to dismiss it. He could use it to his advantage. Getting food was easy when he played the wandering stallion (humans must have a soft spot for horses? Interesting.), and blending in with other horses to acquire shelter during the night was child’s play. For the first time in his life, Sherlock had to provide for himself with out the sustaining give and take he had enjoyed in his forest. To his satisfaction, he found he rather liked being completely self-sufficient.
However, what rallied him the most was his quest. Due to his newfound knowledge of how humans see unicorns, he was even more convinced that he would be able to find others of his kind. His current plan was to head towards a market he had heard some humans discussing. Surely he would be able to gather some more information there? It was worth a shot. Presently, he was making good time, and he fancied a nap. In hindsight, perhaps napping by the main road had been rather naive of him.
The old hag Riley took one look at Sherlock’s sleeping form, and stopped her caravan. She’d thought she’d seen the last of them, but there he was! Magnificent, and hers for the taking. Sensing her delight, the magpie that always sat upon her twisted wooden hat cawed with excitement. She reached up to him, and he savagely bit her finger. Ha! What an excellent bird. With a subtle movement, she flicked a drop of her blood onto the unicorn’s sleeping form, it would help power her spell. Then, she called to her “Wizard”. Riley needed to know if he could see the unicorn too.
John reluctantly joined her by the side of the road. He didn’t trust Riley, nor did he enjoy being on her payroll, but he needed the money… no one else wanted to have anything to do with a wizard whose magic was inconsistant at best. For now, he had to work for her, and he felt miserable and hollow inside. He didn’t see himself as a good person, he figured he was damaged goods, a man who was once so eager to make a difference in the world, and who then became just another jaded traveler, barely moving forward in life.
For the first time in a long time, as he found himself gazing upon Sherlock’s sleeping form, he felt something like hope bloom in his chest. A unicorn! He had never seen one before, nor did he ever dream he might have the ability to do so. He felt an overwhelming sense of awe, and it was more than he had felt in a long time. Still, he made sure his expression remained as it had been for awhile now, neutral, perhaps betraying just a hint of melancholy to those who cared to look closer.
Riley hadn’t noticed John’s recognition, simply drawing him close and demanding what he saw lying in the grass.
“I see a horse, a white stallion,” John lied easily.
She believed him, and cackling softly, she claimed she wanted the stallion for the carnival, and wasted no time casting a strong sleeping spell upon the “horse” so that they could put him behind the cold iron bars without fear of him waking.
As John watced Riley click the final lock shut on the unicorn’s new prison, he came to a decision. He didn’t have a plan yet, but he knew with absolute certainty, he would help this unicorn escape. If it was the last thing he did, he would make sure the unicorn could be free once more. For if he could achieve this, maybe his life wouldn’t be such a waste after all.
Notice how the name of the hag is Riley. I may or may not have named her after the journalist Kitty Riley, who, let's face it, was out to "capture" Sherlock in the BBC canon as well. Also, she has a magpie on her head, the significance of which, well, I leave you to your deductions.
Chapter 5: Sherlock is Childish Even Though He's Old and John Stands Awkwardly and Doesn't Even Properly Introduce Himself
When Sherlock awoke the next day, he was immediately and painfully aware of the iron bars that imprisoned him. He didn’t know what the metal was called, nor had he ever felt anything like it before, but he could feel it’s cold unnatural hold over him. He shut his eyes tightly and tried to imagine he was somewhere else, anywhere else, but to no avail. He felt he might suffocate. Just as he began to panic, he heard a soothing voice speaking to him.
“I know what you are, and I want to help you.”
Sherlock cautiously cracked open one eye, and he took in the sight of a man dressed rather ridiculously in a hokey wizard’s garb. He was sitting next to the cage and it was clear he had been waiting for Sherlock to awaken. If Sherlock was to judge this man by sight alone, he would say he was yet another fool who had deceived himself, or was at least trying to deceive others, into thinking he possessed magic; However, he sensed the man did have true power, he obviously just didn’t know how to control it yet. Hmmm. Well, Sherlock didn’t really know how to respond to what this wizard had said anyway, so he closed his eye once more, feeling slightly nauseous, damn this repulsive cage!
“You must be frustrated, and I’m sure the iron is bothering you, but, can you speak?”
“Don’t be an idiot, of course I can speak,” Sherlock sighed wearily.
“Oh, well, um, here, eat this, it should help with the iron sickness.”
Sherlock listened as a dish was pushed into his cage. There was a pause as if the wizard expected him to move or say something. Ha. Sherlock really could not be bothered to think or do much of anything right now, he was miserable. To be honest though, he was perhaps overdoing it with the sulking. Apparently, he had a flair for the dramatic. Really though, it made sense. Having previously lived a stable and unchanging existense, it was natural for him to want to play up and feel every varying emotion to the fullest. All this was new and intrigueing. Was there not a bard of old who said, "You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness"? While this was not so much the case with Sherlock, he could appreciate the fact that feeling dreadful has a certain charm.
Emotionally, Sherlock is just a child. In some ways he is every bit of his 200 or so (he didn’t really keep track this is an estimate made by your narrator here hi) years, but in terms of feelings, well, more mature in theory than in reality, and certainly now more mercurial than steady. Besides, he is a unicorn, feelings don't come naturally (or at all), but when they do, they are simplistic at the source and overflowing in their output.
After another moment, he heard the wizard’s footsteps retreating from him. Good, he could be alone now. So, he sulked a bit more, until the novelty of his displeasure wore out. He wanted to feel better, so he managed a few bites of the rather unappetizing food, before falling into a sleep once more.
I think our boys are off to a good start don't you? This a facetious rhetorical question please don't answer that.
Chapter 6: To Live Forever
Sherlock observes the extraordinary lengths mortals will go for a chance at immortality
When Sherlock next awoke he was feeling much better. Finally, he was able to fully observe his surroundings. He is not prepared for what he sees.
All around him, animals are imprisoned, and it’s a wonder they are alive. Emaciated, ill, and…enchanted? Ah, that must be it. Riley uses her magic to make them seem like great wonders. Her illusions make an old lion into a manticore, a snake into a dragon. Wait, but there is another creature of true magic! Sherlock recognizes a harpy, her powerful being barely contained by iron bars and reinforcing spells.
Sherlock watches as Riley approaches the cage, listens to her croon at her prisoner, as if the harpy was her precious child.
“I am the only witch in the world who has imprisoned a harpy. You’re mine. Even if you manage to escape, even if you someday kill me, you’re still mine,” and she strokes the cages lovingly, smearing her own blood across the bars, further binding the harpy to herself. She turns, and she notices Sherlock watching.
She cackles heartily.
Sherlock looks upon her, and he sees Riley for what she is: desperate for power, desperate to tame and own and damn the consequences.
Sherlock notices this as he notices all things, with a sort of detached otherworldly stare. He speaks his mind on principle, and he is sure to use his most condemning and scathing tone, “You. Repel. Me.”
Riley isn’t much bothered by this, but a sort of maniacal gleam lights her eyes as she replies passionately, “Ah, but you’ll always remember me! You are eternal, and in your memories I’ll live on! That is my immortality, and I will have it no matter what! And what are you to say such things, what are you to pass judgement! You are the last of your kind, the only one who escaped the Red Bull. You may be immortal, but your immortality is worth less than mine, because there is no one to continue your legacy but yourself! You are truly alone in this life, and you think you can change that and it's pathetic. I repel you? Well, I look at you and I see you unicorn and you. Repel. Me.”
With that she left, and Sherlock was once again alone in his cage, with only his thoughts for company.
Well that was a long wait. Sorry about that. I can't say it won't happen again, my schedule has been crazy lately but I promise I will finish this.
Chapter 7: The Escape
That night, John made his move. He hurried quickly and without hesitation, approaching Sherlock's cage and immediately setting to work unlocking Sherlock from the prison with keys he had pickpocketed from Riley. Sherlock was amused. He would have thought this man would try to use magic to free him, but he was clearly too practical for that. It was rather admirable, really. Sherlock was pretty sure he only liked pointless theatrics when they were coming from his own self. The caged door opened with a clang, and Sherlock figured he didn't have much time before Riley realized what was going on. Despite this, he wasn't going to pass up an opportunity for revenge upon the hateful woman, and he abhorred seeing the animals locked up. Hastily, he went about releasing the rest of the animals.
John made no protest until Sherlock approached the last cage containing the harpy, "Whaoh! What are you doing!" hissed the wizard.
“Obvious,” Sherlock replied.
“If you set her free, she’ll kill you, she’ll kill us all!” John cried.
Sherlock doubted it. He could handle a harpy, and he wanted to set her free. He didn’t much care for the consequences. Sherlock was all or nothing on most things, and this was one of them.
Immediately upon her release, the harpy dove for Sherlock. John made a move to intervene, but Sherlock had it well in hand, his horn suddenly glowing with defensive magic.
It was at that moment that Riley made herself known. She called out to the harpy, taunted her, and the harpy’s attention was diverted, suddenly and intensely focused on her former captor. Riley opened her arms as if to welcome the harpy into an embrace, but truly she was welcoming death.
Sherlock didn’t waste time becoming a spectator. He turned and walked away, calling to John, “You! Wizard! Come with me!” and John did follow, sparing a pitying glance at his doomed former employer.
They retreated slowly. Everyone knew not to run from an immortal creature. If you walked away without fear and they lost sight of you though, you would be safe.
Once they were in the clear, John dissolved into hysterical giggles. Sherlock studied him, for truly, he had never seen any man like him.
“What is your name Wizard?” he inquired.
John huffed in a few breaths then spoke, “John. Do you have a name?”
“Well, Sherlock, that was the most ridiculous thing I have ever done, and possibly the most horrifying thing I have ever witnessed”
“You seem to be faring well enough.”
“I suppose I’m stronger than I realize.”
“As is the case with most people,” Sherlock replied airily. In his thoughts, however, Sherlock acknowledged John was stronger than "most people", and he found that rather exciting.
Thus, the adventure began.