Friday, April 13, 2012


There's a thrill to this, she thinks. And she knows that there's supposed to be. Each story she's heard of this sort of hunt speaks of something special. Seasoned hunters, warriors, soldiers, suddenly tensing up, getting oddly irritable, or just running. And the stories often speak of exactly the feeling she's getting: shivers down the spine, hair raised on the back of her neck, fidgeting because she wants to move. (It isn't the right thrill. The thrill isn't supposed to call her closer.)

Katherine blinks, then replays her thoughts. Hunter-warrior-soldier, tensing-irritable-running, shivers-nape-fidgets. Three groups of three. She'd heard of threes being important. But surely that wasn't so. It didn't happen like that--people told stories, but unicorns couldn't actually influence one's mind so finely, not by simple proximity.

A twig snapped. Her breath was speeding, and she should be afraid, but wasn't. What was it? This was a creature who had killed her kin, who had a horn more wicked than many swords, who defended the forest without a second thought--

Wait. What? She hadn't been thinking that last one.

The stories are true, then. Kate nocked an arrow, trying to find the thing. A twig had snapped, where had that been? Right. Near the rising sun. That was east, to her right. And there, right there, framed by the glow of a sun yet beneath the horizon, stood the unicorn.

He came toward her at a gentle trot.

She should be doing...something? (She lowered her bow. Katherine didn't want to shoot an ally, and there were no enemies near.)

A unicorn's horn, though wicked sharp, would heal things. Purge waters, wounds, sickness. That was all she thought of when he leaned closed to her, touched his horn to her forehead. (For surely, it was all he thought of.) The touch lifted an old pain, an old weight, one she had stopped recognizing when it became too consistent. (She dropped the bow and arrow, the beautiful bow. Remembering, that was always the part that baffled her the most. She could have put it away, it would have taken barely a moment.)

"Kate!" someone unimportant called. She heard a whistling sound, and then--

It lay dead at her feet. She blinked. The weight and pain were still gone, and the fearful beast was gone. It would make a splendid story for David to tell around the campfire, she supposed, him having saved her life, and her having been hypnotized by the unicorn.

He looked at her. Two dead eyes, in the wrong place for a horse's skull, looked at her. They had spoken for a moment. Communicated. Communed.

She wondered if Dave had needed to kill the unicorn. (She wondered if that was another trick of unicorn hypnotism, or her own thoughts. She wondered if she would ever be able to not-wonder that again.)

She shook her head to (loosen her mane) clear her head. The unicorn had taken blood of her tribe, and her tribe had taken blood of his to stop it. There was no shame in that.

"The beast is dead!"

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