UNICORN’S QUEST (Novellette)

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(Cover art by Kimberly Mattia)

 

parental-advisory   URIcjRv7

 

 

 


Unicorn’s Quest

______________________

Aaron B.

© Aaron B., 2016

 


 

 

Part 1: Into the Night

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Once upon a time, there was a female unicorn named Ira.

Her father taught her to never cry in the face of danger, and Ira would keep that promise for as long as she could. Ira’s father was named Mortous. His mane and body, black as coal. His eyes a light blue color, his pointy horn on top of his head, a shade of dark gray.

He kept himself in amazing shape; female unicorns would always look at him if he happened to be in the pasture, he and Ira lived in an enchanted forest-far away from most human civilizations, but if a creature chose to-he or she could easily go to any town, provided they didn’t mind the long walk. This forest, was where all unicorns and creatures lived. When I say enchanted forest, it’s probably what you imagine. Tall trees, covered in beautiful leaves, the sunlight bright, strange and mystical birds tweeting in the air.

Creatures of all types and sizes living in harmony, straight out of a literal fairy tale. Sure, you had a few issues, disputes and maybe even some violence, but it wasn’t a big deal. The enchanted forest had all the right attributes to keep these creatures alive. Ira was raised in this forest by her father. Mortous had a voice that was deep and very authoritative-even when having a friendly conversation, but he wasn’t much for talking a lot. He was the head of the Equine Royal Guard-he fought terrors that came to various towns, dragons, ogres, goblins and the like. He fought these terrors only if they were close to the enchanted forest however, but he was looked upon as a hero no less. Being that he sometimes ventured into populated areas, humans started recognizing him. He loved his daughter very much, when she was a foal, her mother was killed by a pack of wild wolves. Mortous always blamed himself for that incident, but he knew he couldn’t dwell on her death for his entire life, for he had a foal to take care of.

The father and daughter would play constantly within the forest. She was quite jolly, and even when she was first born, had a deep and tremendous respect for her dad-who really put himself on the line every day when going to work. Any battle could come out of nowhere and whisk him into some epic war. He was very loving, more so with words than actions. He wasn’t into hugging or kissing, but he did say very kind things. However, if someone hugged him out of some pain they were going through, he wouldn’t push them aside-he would let the hug him, then he’d go about his day. He was also quite firm, when Ira would fall, her father would put one hoof on her and tell her firmly, but quietly ‘crying won’t help-dust yourself off please.’ Ira would sometimes hug her father, and he was fine with this and embraced it. While Mortous was firm, he understood the importance of loving his little foal. He never pushed creatures or the humans he worked with to the point of anxiety; he would help anyone out if he felt they weren’t just being lazy. Again, being that humans knew him-if he had time, he would go to towns and help out, but he found humans sort of uninteresting and bland, so he didn’t hang around them much.

Going back to Ira however, when Ira was still a foal in school where she learned of her magical abilities, she was bullied by another, bigger unicorn than herself-her father noticed and he gave this bully a harsh reprimanding. Something along the lines of ‘if you come near my daughter again, I’ll have you arrested by my guard, you little bastard.’ No one dare cross Mortous-being the head of the royal guard, meant others were a bit intimidated by him. Ira did fine in school, Mortous was never one to worry about grades When Ira became a teenager, she was kind of rebellious; however she made sure she never hurt anyone-creature or human, unless they provoked her. Her rebellious attitude usually came to drinking with friends late at night in some of the towns scattered around the edges of the forest. She made a lot of friends around the towns she visited, none of which were human, because she agreed with her father. Humans just weren’t very interesting to her. She had nothing against them; she certainly would help one outbut she wouldn’t want to be very close friends with one because humans have a lot of different emotions than unicorns, but we will speak of the nature of unicorns a bit later. Unlike her father, Ira was quite chatty and even comical. Every creature lived in varied sized cabins, depending on the size of the creature. All of them one floor, all of them sort of looking like the cottage out of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Mortous and Ira would have a quick breakfast, usually something that tasted disgusting in Ira’s opinion-like a peanut butter and olive sandwich. This was only given out when work was a head of the two unicorns.

 

As the morning sun rose among the tall trees, the two would run around certain areas of the enchanted forest. They would take a canter among the forest, even if it rained a tiny bit. They went cantering for about a mile, maybe two miles if Ira was up for it. After a short break, Mortous and Ira would go back home. He would complement her on her job well done, and if he noticed-also complimented her on her large hoof and leg muscles, which were almost as big as most male unicorns in the land. In the afternoon, he would give her small fighting tips, he and she would perform certain moves outside, he would give her a split second warning as to what attack he would do, but sometimes she wouldn’t react quickly enough and he would accidentally whack her chin with his hoof and cause her lower lip to bleed. In fact, this ‘practice fighting’ often resulted in bruises and bleeding cuts-she kept pushing though. Over a very long period of time, her father taught her to ignore pain and told her ‘as long as you believe what you’re fighting in and you keep your heart strong and powerful, and your wits about you-pain should be secondary.’ Eventually-when she was a teen, became a good match for her dad. She was never afraid to swing a hoof for herself or anyone if she really felt it was needed-and some humans did deserve a small punch if they were being too intrusive on the nights she’d go out drinking. Humans were rather fascinated by unicorns, and while Ira didn’t mind answering there questions, sometimes humans got a bit too obsessive. She was also shown how to use her horn properly, mostly in school sessions. In battle, it was a sort of short range knife, and like all unicorns, it held certain magical abilities-but Ira wasn’t the most powerful of all unicorns. The most helpful feature was when it was dark out and she needed to see, her horn would glow a white color, acting as a sort of powerful flashlight. She could also move small objects with her horn, it would glow a dark purple color and any object she was thinking of, she could telepathically move. She was also trained in medical assistance, she knew how to sew a wound, and she knew all about healing potions.

Ira now in human years, is forty years of age…in horse years, she is about fourteen. She is watching her father slowly die in a hospital as she thinks of her past…and as depressed as she felt…did not cry…for that would be a promise broken. About a year had passed after her father’s death. She felt like she needed a vacation, a change of scenery if you will. One morning she decided to officially leave the forest for a long while, it was a sunny and gorgeous day in the forest.

Butterflies flew around; the flowers were in full bloom. Most of the unicorns were at a large lake, drinking and chatting amongst each other, as the sun glistened off of the lake and off of their horns, creating an ‘almost too beautiful to be real life’ kind of effect. Ira used this giant, deep lake to swim laps if she did not feel like going out for a canter-swimming proved to be Ira’s favorite form of exercise. The air in the forest, crisp-and not a single loud noise to be heard-just the chirping of birds. Ira took her morning trot along a path, a winding and long path. She would canter at some points, and then return to trotting, the path went up and down hill-so by the time she finished, and she was exhausted. Most of her friends were unicorns; they tend to be in packs. She has white all over her body and her mane and tail are black-but this is hardly why she really is unique. Other unicorns by the way are usually either all white or all black; males were usually all black by the way. Females were typically all white, or in some rare cases, a very light pink color, like pink lemonade.

Ira would tell her friends she would go on vacation, specifically to the town of Forlorn. Good thing is, is that she already has a stable in place-her father took her to Forlorn, so it’ll be good to reminisce and maybe even meet some new friends. Ira however, had no idea of what was to come….

 

Chapter 2

 

Francis lied awake in bed, staring at the ceiling to his crappy house-really it was only one room, it was all he could afford. He looked out the window closest to his bed and saw light rain pattering outside, the clouds a dark grey color-it was a kind of morning when Francis would have rather just turned over and went back to sleep for an hour or so. He knew though he’d need to get food early, before most of the townspeople woke up and they would be all out of cheap food. His cane had fallen to the floor; he rolled over tiredly and picked it up. The seventeen year old was now living alone, he has a job as a newspaper delivery boy, and on rainy days like today-the job really was terrible, more so than usual. He throws on brown slacks and a white dress shirt. With his brown vest buttoned-he opens the door, and looks over the town he lived in-the town known as Forlorn. People of all ages walk around the cobblestone sidewalks, littered with empty potion bottles and just general trash. The dirt roads the horse and buggies travel on are narrow. The houses are small, made out of dry old bricks. People around this town are sick due to malnourishment or lack of sleep, some of them have the common cold which is contagious-and once you’re ill in this town, the chances of survival are sort of slim unless you have a healing liquid handy. The town doctor is old and half blind, so going to him you’d have to be desperate.

Francis limps along the sidewalk, his bundle of newspapers in hand, the rain is still light-but he knew with his luck, the rain would get worse. He tosses papers on the door steps of the broken homes. He watches the people interact with each other, the various small animals, like dirty chickens and pigs run about. Francis watches as a window opens to a high apartment building, the housewife living inside of it dumps a large bucket of feces onto the street. The air became warm, warning of a downpour. As he traveled down his route, not many people said ‘hi’ to him-he was sort of ignored, a middle man to be used and bossed around. Yes, he was bossed around-sometimes, stay at home moms would see him delivering the papers outside-summon him inside and make him do little chores, he could usually do it-provided he didn’t have to stand without his cane for a long period of time. Francis really wanted to leave this place, but he had no money, and right now-he was living…and that’s all that really should matter. To the majority of people in this town, being happy is barely secondary-if you’re getting up and able to work then that’s about as good as things will get for you.

Granted, half of the town’s people, while not happy-were content with this lifestyle. People kept to themselves in this town, and rarely smiled. Part of the reason is, is just the town is not very wealthy-there is a king, but he really is only a ruler in Forlorn so he can have money…everyone knows the king can have as much crap as he wants, while all the villagers get barely a pot to piss in. Down an empty street corner, a newcomer came across the local bar-the only bar in Forlorn. The building is made of wood; a black, crooked sign on the top of the building reads “The Drunken Pheasant”

It was a good place to have hardy, crazy, loud or inappropriate conversations-it’s the bar all the men-mostly lumberjacks and men of that nature, went to after a hard days worked and mingled among friends. Creatures would walk in sometimes.

The inside, is filled with cigar smoke most of the time, and the only thing really neat about it is that bartender’s area. The drinks are aligned neatly on the shelves-so that others knew exactly what they served. Other than that, the floor is stained with blood and alcoholic beverages creatures and humans have spilt over the years. Some of the townspeople look at her-the newcomer. Her hooves clop along the wooden floor as she makes her way to the bar. The men’s conversations quiet down-and look at her long and well defined horn on top of her head and a black mane and blue eyes. Draped over her, is a black, leather horse rug her father gave her. Her four legs quite muscular, everything visually about her is toned. Some of the men who may think less of woman are quite surprised to see who stands before them. She approaches the bar, the bartender who is a goat, wears a black vest and red tie, and instead of hooves, and he has human-like hands. He looks at her, smiles and nods. The unicorn shakes the access rain water off, careful not to get anyone wet. Ira speaks contently. “Can I have a glass of white wine?” The goat pours her the drink quickly and gives it to her. She isn’t much for drinking, but once and a while she liked to. As she drinks contently, glancing at the customers at the bar nonchalantly, a muscular creature approaches her. He wears just a black leather jacket; his skin is dark green, his eyes are yellow and his face is very much ‘lizard like’. He certainly is not a human. He orders some beer for himself. He looks at the unicorn. “What’s your name?” he asks in a friendly tone. The unicorn merely glances at him, she wants to be sure he knows that she’s not looking for a date. “Name is Ira, nice to meet you.” He has a deep, southern accent. All the people and creatures in the bar tense up, no one messes with this sort of folk. They know the lizard is bad news, but no human steps in to help. “You’re a beautiful little horsy….I very rarely see you folk around here. Why don’t we….go to my room and get to know each other, huh?” The lizard takes her drink and plops it at the other end of the table in a sort of creepy, an attempt to be tough and flirty. Ira takes a deep breath and speaks calmly, but firmly. “I am going to ask nicely once….please give me my drink back…I’m on vacation and just want to have a nice timeif you can’t respect that-then please go.” The creature puts his arm slowly around the horse’s neck, the unicorn looks into his eyes and reads lust. “Come on darling…l-“ The last words did not come out of his rancid mouth; the unicorn takes the lizard’s neck and his head collides with the table with a hard smack. She uses her two front hooves to press his face down, he yells in pain. Her voice is quiet and extremely threatening. She leans in; her mouth practically touches his ear. “Unless you want my horn shoved up your ass, I suggest never touch or speak to me again…” He breathes heavily, his heart pounds in his chest. “I-I was just blowing smoke…I-I….SWEAR!” The unicorn backs away, as he rubs his pounding head and lifts it up; she notices the side of his head oozes black blood. Ira then walks out of the bar, slightly aggravated she couldn’t just have a nice time getting tipsy.

Francis’ face falls to the mud. Two taller men laugh and point as he tries to get up. One of the men grabs Francis’ cane off of the ground. “Try to get up without this…you damn cripple!” The other bully pipes in. “Yeah, try to walk on that tiny, withered leg!” Francis sighs deeply and says not a word, he has no choice but to lie in the cold mud as the two bullies continue to mock him-they imitate his limp and his slight slurred speech. This attack is happening in the middle of one of the sidewalks outside, no one is intervening. Ira walks up a sidewalk, glancing up at the clouds to see if more rain will fall. People do stare at her, but do not speak to her. It’s not every day you see a lone equine creature walking up a sidewalk, let alone a unicorn.

She looks up, about three feet in front of her, in a muddy puddle; lays a young man-two man stand over him and kick him a bit. She sees his face oozes red blood-she briskly trots over. One of the bullies looks up from Francis, he stares at the unicorn. Her eyes read pure anger.“Oh! A unicorn! How cute!” The two overweight, balding men walk up to her, smirking. She just stares at them without blinking.  “You gonna fly?! Unicorns can’t do crap, they just….are play things for little girls to ride on and draw. Never saw one in real life!”

As he turns his back to attack Francis, Ira snorts loudly and using her back legs, raises half of her body and uses her front hoof to kick him in the lower back. The bully screams in pain, Francis’ eyes get big as the action unfolds. She then trots up behind him and using her front hoof again, stomps his knee cap-the bully yells louder than before, tears roll down his face. She raises her voice, almost to a yell-really with Ira, it’s all in the tone, not the volume. “I really want you to feel what it’s like to walk with a leg that doesn’t work. You’ll be in pain for about…five months, and if that cap of yours ever gets better-which I probably shattered it, but should it get better-you’ll never walk the same way again. Let that serve as a reminder of the pain you’ve caused this poor young man….being on the receiving end of pain is tough, huh? Being a bully really ended up hurting you in the end I’m afraid. Mentally and physically, think about it-you’ll have quite a tough set of thoughts to deal with. It’ll be tough, right?” The bully cries and doesn’t answer her. “It’s going to be TOUGH HUH?!” She lets out a quick, angry snort. The bully whimpers. “Y-yes…ma’am…I-it will….b-be t-tough…ma’am!” The unicorn then looks up at the second bully, who stayed put where he was. Looking on in complete fear, Ira approaches him and uses her hoof to slap him, her voice cold as ice. “Take your friend and run home….” They both go as quickly as possible. The unicorn then walks up to Francis, he notices his cane glowing purple-it floats over to him. She stoops her neck down so he has more leverage; he picks up his cane before standing all the way up. He would admit, he felt a bit nervous around her-but very surprised she did what she did. “Ma’am…h-how c-can I ever thank you?” Ira smiles a bit, as she looks at Francis-her animal senses kick in quickly. Unlike a lot of people and creatures she’s run into, Francis gives off an aura of complete kindness-and nervousness. Sure, he maybe insecure-and most of the time, that maybe a red flag for most of the other creatures in the forest where she lived-but the kindness factor over shadowed this. He seemed honest, thankful-and in real need of a friend. She gives Francis a confident smile. “It was nothing, kid. Name’s Ira and I think we better get you cleaned off….” The unicorn leads the young man to a nearby ally way in town so they wouldn’t be bothered by onlookers. Her horn glows dark purple and the tiny cuts the human has endured, started vanishing. The sensation he felt was kind of a tingle, but nothing hurt at all as the wounds magically closed. This technique only worked with very mild cuts and was one of the many medical techniques Ira used.

Francis touches his face lightly and truly realizes what has happened, being that he senses Ira isn’t the hugging type, and he instead gives her a light pat on the neck. Ira watches Francis’ footing as they walk about the town, with the cane, the human does fairly well -he is slightly awkward when he puts his ‘bad’ foot down, and Ira found this interesting. Very rarely had she come across someone with an issue like that-and still be able to walk. Ira clears her throat, she figures she’ll be with this human for a while-and she’d feel better knowing a bit about him.“May I ask you about your limp?” Francis glances at Ira, looking into her shiny black eyes. He loved how her eyes were, very reflective.  “I was abused when I was a baby and due to brain injury, my left leg just doesn’t work well.” The unicorn’s eyes go big for a brief moment.“Oh…God…I’m sorry to hear that. What kind of sicko would do that to you? That’s just unbelievable.” The young man shrugs. “I have no clue; I guess my dad was mentally off his rocker. You know, I must say-for a unicorn…you’re very….well….brutally honest! I-I mean, what you said back there with the two bullies-unbelievable!” She chuckles; her tail sways back and forth comfortably as they both walk down the dirt road in the town square, filled with tiny shops and such.“I’ve heard that, trust me! Oh my Gawd! People on my shit list tell me that when they can! It’s hard to write all of them down though-I’m always told I gotta keep my mouth shut or something!” Francis cracks up laughing. “Wait…you have an actual shit list?!” “Oh yeah, more people I meet though, it’s more like a shit book though!” She cracks up laughing. “Ohhh man, I’m a horrible influence!” Francis had to admit- he found this kind of edgy, but friendly unicorn to be great to hang out with. He had been alone for so long, that having someone else to talk to really was the thing he needed.

The unicorn and human spent the day together, telling stories. Francis showed her around the town, they went out to eat at a pub-which was quite funny to Francis, he had never seen an equine creature SIT at a booth and order food, but this was a mythical creature he was dealing with-so nothing should really surprise him all that much. Ira ordered a bowl of carrots and lettuce, Francis ordered fish. The unicorn paid, inside of the horse jacket she wore-were a few gold coins she had gotten at another town before stopping here-Francis thanked her kindly for the meal. The human told her about how long he’d been alone, told her stories about the dragon who lived miles from the town-stories that he had heard from locals. Mostly stories involving the dragon doing various, sadistic things-but it was all rumor. He had never seen the beasts before. Being that they were both alone and were having so much fun together, Ira invited Francis to stay at her place, the stable for a bit-the human got psyched and immediately jumped at the opportunity.

The stable is located in a secluded area-it is quite large, but only big enough for one horse. Ira threw off her horse rug and it plopped in the same location every time-a corner by the door. Francis stood in awe of this huge place-it was indeed a stable, but it had three guest bedrooms, chandeliers hung from the ceiling, and Ira’s bed was very large. As the evening grew late, rain started pouring down. Francis was going to walk home, but Ira didn’t feel comfortable with the idea-so she let him stay overnight, which he was quite happy with. It was all easily accessible for Francis being that everything was on one floor and he could walk around the place. He’d get his own guest bedroom, with a bathroom, a huge bed and everything! As Ira showed him to this bedroom, she felt so good about herself. She felt so  warm and fuzzy, bringing such happiness to a human who really needed it. Francis gave her a light pat on the muzzle and she let him be for the night. Francis stripped his clothes and crawled into the neatly made bed…with the sound of the rain pattering on the roof, he felt his eyes slowly droop. He felt very comfortable sleeping here-more so than at his own home. Here, he felt protected-he felt nothing could hurt him. Finally, after so long-he had someone protecting him, he had someone to talk to and look up to…at least for tonight.

Before going in the bedroom closest to Francis, Ira peaks into his bedroom and sees the young human, lightly snoring away and the blankets draped over himself-her horn glows dark purple as the door gently closes all the way without the aid of her hooves. The rain had stopped; Ira was in a deep sleep in the room next to her new friend. Francis had been awoken by a sound outside. Beside his bed, a tiny window to the outside is close by. Francis indolently rolls onto his stomach and peaks outside the window, it’s a tiny, square window right to one side of his bed.

The glass is smudged by rain water; he sees a tiny figure outside-not outside front, but outside back. In back of the stable, was a large meadow that Ira ran around in every morning, beyond the meadow was another Enchanted Forrest-slightly different from the one she lived in regularly.

The young man picks his cane up off the ground, puts on the brown pants he had on earlier-he doesn’t wear his shirt being that he figures he’ll only be out there for a second or two-he was just curious as to who would be so close to the stable at this time of night. He slowly opens the back door to the stable, crickets chirp as he whispers into the pitch darkness, he begins shivering. “Excuse me? What are you doing here? Sir or ma’am-can I help you?” He feels his bare feet on the grass. Francis stands close to the stable-the light from inside the stable somewhat illuminates the figure in front of him, as the figure gets closer….Francis begins shivering more-not because of the chilly weather…but because of intense and uncontrollable fear.

Standing on four legs and about six feet tall, wearing a dark brown vest and viciously smiling away-a wolf has his sights on the human. His voice deep and gruff-his eyes bright yellow, the wolf licks his chops. He moves out of the darkness, and closer to the human. The wolf swiftly leaps on to the human, Francis’ cane flies in the air-rendering him even more hopeless than before. The young man yells a few times-that’s all he has time to do before the wolf knocks him out cold.

Ira wakes up in sheer panic; she canters out of her room, knocking over a painting of her father on the wall.  “FRANCIS!” She busts through the front door and shouts his name into the night; he’s nowhere to be seen! She tries the back door. Her heart pounds in her chest as she sees a giant wolf with a human on its back.

Ira canters after him, her hooves thunder across the meadow; he’s significantly far and almost into the forest-she can see very well in the dark due to her trusty horn, which glows brightly. She is outside in the dark, in the middle of the large meadow.

From one side, out of the darkness, a much smaller wolf attacks her and uses all of his might to leap upon her. Now, the wolf that has kidnapped Francis has a huge advantage over Ira. The wolf jams his paws into the fallen unicorn, barking manically in her face. This attacker has the creature on her side, clawing at one side of her face and drooling on her eye. She lets out an angry grunt as she swiftly turns her head towards the wolf-she knew the horn on her head would act as sort of a knife. The horn stabs the canine diagonally in the mouth, the horn sticks out of the opposite cheek, the wolf’s eyes become blank as blood gushes out of his mouth and he topples in the grass…with one tug Ira yanks her horn out of his flesh. She slowly stands up on her four legs; she shakes the blood off of her horn and takes a deep breath. Ira tries to collect her thoughts and figure out her next course of action. She is now just realizing that if anything happens to Francis, she’ll never forgive herself….

The unicorn quickly canters off into the night, again-across the large meadow and into the dark forest. Before going in-she gives one last look at her stable, which is now looking quite small. She is not nervous as she hears nocturnal creatures out and about, she’s cautious-her adrenaline was still kind of high after the wolf attack, she trots quickly, but watches her footing being that she’s never been here before. Large trees surround her, her hooves pat against the grass-she trots deeper and deeper into the forest. She then began thinking to herself. Who would steal a human? What would a large wolf want with Francis? To eat him? Kidnap him and release him for a certain amount of gems perhaps? As she continues briskly walking for hours and taking little to no break time, she comes across a wide stream, she can see the bottom. Instead of leaping over it, she decides to swim across the warm water. She steps onto the other side of the stream; she trots up a slight hill.

Morning is now approaching, the sky turns light blue as the sun begins to peak out. A slight fog begins to roll in, giving the forest and eerie and foreboding feeling. A chill goes through the air. In a few moments…the unicorn comes across a cave. She quickly picks up the smell of the wolf. She looks down and finds footprints in the dirt-wolf paws to be exact, leading right to the cave. Ira takes a deep breath and enters the cave, bracing herself for anything. Ira gets the urge to shout Francis’ name over and over, but does not because she doesn’t know what lies ahead. As she enters, her ears twitch as she hears water coming off of the large rocks that hang from the ceiling. A cold air whips through the cave as she moves closer. The horn does help as far as brightening up the place.

She steps in further…as she does so, she feels overwhelming fear. Being that horses are usually anxiety induced animals; her instincts tell her to run for her life-but mentally, she knows that if she turns back-Francis could easily die soon. Ira looks behind her, as she trots along the cave, she looks behind her and sees that the entrance, the only source of natural light. The cave only gets darker, the cave is silent, and every step of her hoof makes a clopping sound that echoes. She trots along slowly, her every sense heightened. She then steps in something!

She groans in disgust, she slowly lifts her front hoof off the ground…almost not wanting to know what she has all over the bottom of her hoof-her white horn illuminates the substance. She doesn’t quite know what it is, that is until she puts the yellow, clear goop up to her nostril. It’s honey. She notices as she walks, the honey becomes thicker and covers her hoof; it’s almost like a pond of mud, but it’s golden and goopy. While trotting is more difficult, she continues through it-she then hears a sound. She stops dead in her tracks, her ears twitch back and forth. Her nostrils flare to see if she can pick up any other smells other than the overly sweet smell of the honey river. It’s a loud, low hum. The hum then grows loud…not a being in sight…it’s just the sound, almost like something is watching her-but not striking. She slows her breathing down to better hear what this sound could be. Her eyes squint in a sort of angry curiosity, her ears now flat against the back of her head. She then feels a sharp pain in her left thigh; she winces in pain and looks down. Ira gasps as she sees a yellow jacket-about three inches long and quickly injecting venom into her blood stream. She uses her horn to stab it-it makes a slight screeching sound from its mouth and dies quickly. However, on her leg-she is left with a giant welt, it begins to swell quickly. The unicorn begins to breathe heavily, as the buzzing sound now grows louder…about four large yellow and black bees land on her back, that same intense stinging is very noticeable now.

She then drops to the ground and into the honey, landing on her back, squishing the insects that sting her spine, the thick honey covers her back…it’s the most disgusting and sticky feeling she’s ever felt in her life for sure. More and more large bees come…ten, fifteen, twenty all crowd around her-hovering-she looks down near the entrance of the cave to see if any are behind her-and notices that she’s come across a giant hive-the insects had made a nice home for themselves within this dark cave, parts of the inside of the cave are covered in honeycombs. Too many yellow jackets block the entrance now. They see Ira as a threat. Should she try to run through them, she would be stung and in more pain than she had felt in a long time-not to mention all the venom she’d endure, which was her main worry.

She then canters onward, passing through the honey-covered area, her breathing heavy…feeling little pings of pain. The buzzing is now more intense, the anger of the pests intensifies. Most insects and predators, love unicorn blood-supposedly its nutritional value is surpassed to almost any creature. Ira trips and falls smack into the floor of the cave-the welts on her beautiful body are now swelling more and more. She dashes quickly-bees follow and viciously attack-she keeps her mouth closed tight so that none can fly to the back of her throat. Some bees try to get her from the front, but she viscously whacks them with her horn, while she is scared, she does not panic-not even for a second. The fear becomes secondary-getting out alive is the priority.

Ira then breathes a sigh of relief as she sees an exit to the cave. Her four legs carry her as quickly as possible. Not looking where she was going and trying to avoid the swarm, she trips on a root right outside of the exit of the cave. She yelps in pain, she falls harshly-the welts on her body sting more.

As she tumbles down a giant hill on her side, thorns tug at her mane and her legs get scratched up as well. She stops herself from falling about mid-way down this hill. She cusses under her breath, the unicorn then trots sideways down the hill slowly. Ira reaches the bottom of the large hill. Apart from slightly different looking trees-the forest looks the same. The sun has just shown its full form, the golden rays hit Ira and the forest. The unicorn’s ears twitch as she hears three male voices in the distance…but not just regular, harmless humans-unicorn hunters.

 

Chapter 3

 

Ira froze up a tiny bit, knowing that unicorn hunters are usually very good at what they do. As she stood, her ears twitched as she heard voices. They were all male voices from what she could tell, as the footsteps got closer-Ira started looking left and right, looking for a nice hiding spot. Hiding behind a tree was obviously out of the question-she looked at bushes…she couldn’t really lay down low enough. Some more powerful unicorns could turn themselves invisible-alas, she could not. Ira then sighs angrily…looks in front of her and sees four men standing in front of her. They wore heavy armor and carried spears. They were most likely in there early thirties. The men approached her, she frowned and stomped one hoof on the ground. Ira stands in the middle of a large path now in the woods, a few feet from the four men. Trees are on either side of them. One of the men named Pip, the tallest and strongest one spoke up. He spoke in a heavy Scottish accent. “Look lads, we have us a feisty one!” Ira snorts and then speaks coldly. “I’m going to warn you once-do not get in my way.” Pip smirks, figuring this is just a lie so that the men do not capture her. “Oh, really? You’re some hero, huh? Well-it’s a pleasure to meet you unicorn, being that we don’t see much of your kind around! Why don’t you come with us…niiiiiice and easy?” Pip approaches the mighty creature; he is now about a foot away from the unicorn. Ira lifts one of her front hooves and swings a heavy punch-Pip tumbles backwards and gets up quickly, his nose gushes out blood and he feels quite dizzy. From behind a faraway bush-a unicorn hunter, who is part of the same group, gets his bow ready. Pip stands in pain, holding his nose tightly as his three friends try to help him. The archer releases the arrow-it lands smack in Ira’s back-she yelps in pain…only a moment later; she begins to feel dizzy and nauseous. She collapses to the forest floor unconscious….

 

Chapter 4 

 Hours Later

 

The equine creature tries to move her four legs. The welts on her body have magically gone away-probably by a potion of some kind. However, someone would have had to give her potion while she was knocked out. She feels groggy due to the poison tipped arrow that had gone through her. She wakes up frantically; she realizes her four hooves are chained! The unicorn can barely move around the small cage the men had put her in. She looks through the large black iron bars in front of her, she bangs the bars with her horn in anger. All she sees on the other side of the door, is a cobble stoned wall, attached to the wall is a fire lit lamp. The room has bare rock walls, the ceiling is quite low. The floor is grey and the only look she can get to the outside, is a tiny window in the back of the prison. At first-she feels panic flow through her. Her heart pounds in her chest…however, instead of letting these feelings take over her and her making a ruckus-Ira slows her breathing down.

The unicorn closes her eyes and thinks about the environment she’s in. She opens her eyes only a moment later, while she isn’t calm-she now can think clearly. From a corner in the cage, a voice from the darkness is heard. “You startled me! You’re quite jumpy…”

The voice is male, he seems calm and collected. No older than thirty years of age. Ira looks towards the corner; she sees a goat sitting-he is also chained. He wears a dark green robe with golden lining. The unicorn lies down tiredly. “Sorry about that, I’ve had quite a hectic few hours…” The goat nods. “Well, I’m Doran-and you are…” Ira lets out a quick, friendly smirk. “Ira, nice to meet you, sorry to be abrupt-but why are we here? I was covered in welts by some horrible bees. It doesn’t hurt anymore though.”

Doran stands up as much as he can-but the chain gives barely enough slack for the two to stand on their legs. Doran clears his throat. “I was taken a week ago. See, I’m a master potion maker and-Pip, the head of the unicorn hunters ordered me to heal you…they want you alive. I’m guessing this castle is new-they barely have anyone working here…barely a king for that matter. Gosh, we may be here a while….” Ira sighs in deep thought. “I have no time for bullshit-I have to get to a human…and fast.”

Doran looks at the unicorn sadly.  “Someone in trouble-a human you say?” “Very much so, see-I made friends with a human only a day ago a-and he got kidnapped by some wolf.” The goat sighs. “Darn, that’s awful. Interesting however-most creatures try to stay away from humans…but you say you’re friends with one?” Ira smiles a bit as she thinks about Francis. “He was being kicked around by some bullies, and I lashed out at them-Francis, the human has a limp-he uses a cane. He told me his father abused him when he was a baby-and I don’t care how strange I sound-but I feel a connection with him. All my life, I feel I’ve been kind of rough housed. My father was the head of the royal guard, and while he loved me very much-he always pushed and pushed me to be the best I could be-and affection was just something I rarely felt.” Doran looks right into the unicorn’s black eye.“You feel that this human…perhaps showed you…compassion and empathy?” Ira glances out the iron bars, then back at Doran.

“Well, not that I didn’t know about compassion or empathy, I had known others who had felt these feelings-they were just two emotions I never really felt. I have this…urge to help him, whatever the coast maybe. I need him to be safe-he’s been through enough crap in life…hell, he lives alone. He’s lived alone his entire life-never talking to many people his own age, I mean even my father gave me hugs…but jeez, I can’t picture that Francis has really ever…felt this kind of stuff before. It saddens me….” Doran folds his arms in deep thought. “Do you have foals of your own?” Ira shakes her head nonchalantly.

“Do you feel like a…mother to him? Being that Francis has only been met with brutality, even by his own family?” Ira’s eyes light up a bit, as she had never thought of the friendship like that before. “The more I think about it, the more I think that…that statement perfectly sums up how I feel about this young man.” Doran stands up confidently and pats Ira on the neck. “Then I really hope we can find a way out of here.”

The prison almost became pitch dark once a knight turned off the fire lit lamp on the wall outside. Moonlight beamed through the bars through the tiny, back window-the unicorn lay on her stomach, Doran is cuddled in his same dark corner, somehow sleeping soundly. Ira stares blankly at a wall, just thinking about Francis. She begins to feel an emotion she rarely felt-worry. All her life, she has been able to take care of herself and others. Now, she wasn’t sure if she was just being pushed too hard, passed her mental limit. She had fought in bar fights and talked to a few creatures and offered them help-however, like Doran said-she felt almost like a mother figure to this young human. The need for him to be safe just grew inside her-thoughts of how to escape were coming to her, but most of these thoughts were rather cloudy. She really had no idea what to do. She then whispered to herself. “I’ll be fine…Francis will be fine….I will save him…j-just not now.” She listens to the sound of ocean waves-she realized just now in the dark silence that this castle, was very close to an ocean. The unicorn then stands up and looks out the tiny window to the back of the cell-she looks down and sees that not only is she in the tallest tower of the castle, but that directly below her is the ocean. She then sighs both tiredly and miserably, the unicorn goes back to lying down on her stomach and rests her eyes. After a kind of rough sleep attempt, the two get up at around the same time. The air is slightly cold, the sun is just rising. Doran stretches and yawns, the goat speaks groggily.“Good morning, Ira.”

The unicorn shakes her head to get the sleepiness out of her somewhat. “Hey….have you thought about getting out of here?” Doran was slightly taken aback by her abruptness, but shrugged it off. “Well-I think we should get the guard’s daily routine down. See what if they feed us, see who watches us. Then, I think we could make a move…” Just then, Pip approaches the gate. He holds a small barrel of hay in one hand and a bowl of gruel in the other. Standing behind him, is a guard with a spear. He is taller than Doran, but not as muscular as Ira. Pip opens the gate to the cell; Doran and Ira stand back so they don’t get yelled at. He silently places the watery hay next to his new prisoner, and the cold gruel next to the goat. He nods and leaves the guard with the spear stands there, his back facing the barred door. Doran slowly looks at the food he was given, Ira ate up because once she escaped; she wouldn’t know when her next meal would be. Doran did reluctantly eat the gruel.

After eating, the guard with the spear left. The goat then speaks up.“Ira, not to insult you-but you’re a unicorn. You’re magical, couldn’t you just….make the gate open and we make a run for it?” Ira stands close to the entrance of the cage; she was in deep thought about Francis until Doran spoke up. “Well, yes…here’s the thing however, if we’re up so high-I’d like to force that…hunter, Pip to help us out of here. If we make a run for it, we could get lost if the halls are massive. I don’t think we should just jump to conclusions-“ The two of them here footsteps, they back away, acting as if they’re not listening. Pip and the guard with the spear speak next to the cage, Ira’s ears shoot forward. “Alright Joseph, I’m going to leave you in charge of these two. I’ll be in the castle-yell if anything happens, only if it’s an emergency. You keep your spear in hand and your wits about you. Don’t let either one of them get hurt or nothing-I need these two to help this castle grow.”

Pip then sighs, almost in a comforting way. “I know you’re nervous, but think of it-you get to spend time with a unicorn! That’s an honor!” Joseph nods and gives his father a light hug. “I know dad, I can do it! I can handle these two, do not worry” They smile at each other, Pip leaves.

For about an hour, silence fills the halls…Joseph then goes to the bathroom; Doran and Ira seize the moment to speak of the plan to escape. “Doran, I’ve got a plan. We need to get Joseph to tell us about the castle, about an escape route. Pip is too smart for the idea I have-but Joseph is younger and therefore, easier bate. With magic, I can make you feel ill-I’ll yell for help, Joseph walks in…he knows that Pip will never trust his son again, should either of us die of illness. We strike and force information out of Joseph. Pip will come, let me handle it. Got it?” The goat knew this plan was a good one, and if you argue with Ira, you won’t get far, he didn’t want to get her angry with him. “Alright Ira, I do like it….” The unicorn then gives Doran a light kiss on the forehead. “Thank you for helping me….it means a lot.” He blushes hard and brushes her black forelock to make it flat-being that he loves when horse’s forelocks look flat for some odd reason…he considered it a ‘classic’ look for equines.

Joseph comes back-a moment later, Ira’s horn glows dark purple, making others ill could often be uses as a small defense mechanism. Doran didn’t expect it, but he actually felt horribly ill-so ill that he vomited, he sort of rolled his eyes angrily-she should have told him he was going to throw up! Joseph gasps and without thinking, quickly opens the cage…Ira takes the chance to use her front hooves and tackle the young man to the ground! He falls to floor, his back smacks against the floor. Her muzzle is now mere inches from his face. He yells for his father-she uses the side of her front leg to press down on his throat. “I don’t want to kill you-but trust me…I will if I have too! If your father gives me an escape route-then everything will be fine…got it?” With his eyes filled with tears, Joseph nods. Pip comes running to the cage-his breathing labored and his sweating body beginning to stink up the place. He looks, sees the cage door wide open, the unicorn is on top of his son, anger flowing in her face, and Doran looking pale.“LET my son go! NOW unicorn!” Ira looks at Pip. “Give me an escape route…I need to get out of here. If you don’t…your son dies…slowly. My magic can both heal and kill. You want your son to die at the hands of a unicorn?” Pip begins feeling sick…he rubs his eyes. “A-alright…if it means my son lives…then you can leave. DO NOT hurt my son!”

Doran, Pip, Joseph and Ira walk in a straight line down a large hallway, the walls made of brick. Sticking out of the walls, are fire-lit lanterns. Ira keeps her horn centimeters away from Joseph’s throat. Joseph feels like he could cry as the feeling of death takes over him. Ira can tell he’s terrified, in away-she feels horrible to make a human feel so helpless. However, she also knows this was the best she could do with the short time she had to get out. Pip leads the unicorn down some large stairs she never would have figured this out on her own…she was glad she waited. In the long run, Pip was hoping the unicorn would attract more hunters and his unicorn hunting business would grow…now his life’s mission was being killed…by a unicorn no less.

From his pocket, Pip grabs a large set of keys and opens the massive entrance to the castle-or what she thought was the entrance. Ira is surprised to find out that actually, the entire castle is on a mountain side, the building is a few feet off of the deep ocean. If you were standing right at the door way where Ira stands, you could need to watch your step-for if you walked to far to the edge, you would fall into the depths of the ocean below. She looks into the distance, rather confused. The unicorn turns around, her back facing the frame of the doorway. Ira’s voice is filled with irritation-she was tricked. “Jerk…this is not the entrance…stop messing with me…you think I’m kidding when I say your son is in danger?” Joseph’s father looks angrily at the unicorn. From his other pocket…he grabs a rather large knife, the knife is a straight blade, with a black handle. He runs to her and stabs her in the breast viciously; he snaps the handle off and leaves the metal sticking out of her chest.

She had no time to react-it all happened to suddenly and without warning. Ira neighs in pain and tumbles backward; she holds her breath as she heads into the cold depths. Pip spits into the ocean, right above Ira. “Good luck getting through without a boat….bitch.” Doran is then taken away, and Joseph still cowers in fear-he slams the door to the castle. The water is freezing; Ira’s blood floats through the dark blue water. The metal shines as the sun beams off of it-the unicorn feels her lungs fill up with water. She does not lose hope-she kicks her legs ferociously. Her ears become blocked as the current in somewhat strong, making her have to push harder than she thought she’d need to.

She feels like her lungs could bust due to the fact she does not have much air. Somehow, she knows if she just pushes-she can make it….she feels lightheaded…but she knows she is that much closer to the surface. Ira’s head pops out of the water, she takes a huge, deep breath-kicking all four legs as she easily can now swim. She hears the wave’s crash, salt water hits her lips, making it hard to breathe-she tastes the water as it soaks into her nostrils. She gags as water is shoved into her throat-she keeps her head high.

Her legs surprisingly work well; the wound becomes a secondary worry. The unicorn looks around; straight ahead of her is an empty beach. She then swims for it-as fate would have it, she found an empty barrel-identical to the one Pip had for her in the castle and uses it as a makeshift buoy. Her two front hooves, lean against the barrel-as her back legs do all the work, but now she feels she can breathe and she can sort of relax.

She uses her bottom legs to kick herself forward. She looks at her left breast and sees the metal protruding from her blood drips from her chest. Her horn glows purple as the blade miraculously is pulled-slowly out of her chest…she winces in pain. The sound of her flesh being tugged makes her sick.

Then, with the medical magic she was taught-attempts to close the wound as much as possible…but it still stings horribly. The unicorn shivers profusely, her teeth chatter as the sun disappears behind a group of grey clouds and thunder roars in the distance.

After about a half hour of swimming, she reaches the shore, light rain begins to drizzle on her. She trots up onto the sand and shakes off the ocean water-she feels the sand on her hooves. She looks around her, no one is in sight. Dry seaweed and tiny dead fish surround her; the ocean is murky, sort of a shade of grey. There is not a lot of beach to walk along; the tide is coming in quite fast.

Then, she notices a dog print on the sand-she gives it a whiff and smells the scent of the wolf that took Francis. Ira then looks into the distance and sees…him. She looks on as the wolf, runs for his life across the large body of sand.

The unicorn canters after him-sand is thrown to the back of her-muddy and wet sand to be exact. In no time catches up to him. He charges after her on all fours and leaps, she is nearly knocked down, and she then quickly uses her horn to cut the wolf. A deep, bloody cut is now on the wolf’s chest, he tumbles on his back-Ira grunts as she pins the canine down. She uses her back hoof and stomps on his leg, he yells in pain as he looks down and sees bone protruding from his limp, rubbery leg, dark red blood gushes all over the dirty sand. She yells into his face, her ears pinned back. “Where is Francis? Tell me you son of a bitch!”

She punches the wolf twice in the face using the hard edge of her hoof-his nose begins bleeding profusely and his eye is now bruised. He spits a bit of blood onto the sand, his eyes grow wide as he now knows this unicorn is much stronger than he is.

The wolf also realizes that Ira is probably insane. Someone had paid him off to keep silent, but his own life mattered too much to him. “I took your human…t-to a dragon!” Ira smacks him in the face. “WHAT?! A DRAGON!? Do you realize he could be DEAD?!? HUH?!” The wolf’s eyes read undeniable terror; here is a strong unicorn, her mane dirty with sand, her eyes wide and his life now in her hands. He can barely look at the unicorn without his heart pounding. “H-he paid me to keep quiet! P-please don’t hit me! S-see, that night…when I kidnapped Francis, I was told to bring him to a large mountain. R-right outside of this very town! Th-that’s all I KNOW!”

Ira’s voice is now calm, but still authoritative.”If I let you go, you won’t try anything will you?” He shakes his head, she reads his face and believes him-and also remembers that she broke his leg. She then gets off of him, he lies in the sand-he begins crying in pain. “What is your name?” The wolf coughs violently. “Chuck!” Ira’s ears are now pinned back, she snorts a bit as she looks at the cowering wolf-who at once seemed unbeatable, but now was begging at her hooves to stay alive. “Tell me one more thing…Chuck. Where can I find some armor?” “Th-there’s a town….a little ways up the beach. Now…LEAVE!”

The unicorn smirks. She looks into the ocean, watching the wave’s crash into each other; she also listens to the seagulls. “I’ll leave, don’t you worry-the tide will take over for me. It’s coming in quickly this evening. Doubt you’ll be hurting anymore humans soon…hmm?” Ira then trots off, leaving the wolf a few feet from the waves. “W-wait! I told you EVERYTHING! Take me with you! PLEASE?! FUCK you!”

 

Chapter 5

 

The New Town

 

Ira does indeed find a town a little ways from the beach. The town is partly deserted. The streets are sandy, same color as the beach. Dilapidated buildings are on both sides of the land, a worn out sign dangles at the entrance of the town called: Blithe. She walks in the center of the street-she notices that the shops and restaurants are however open and running. She finds a building that reads: Armor Needs!

The store owner is a frog; he walks on two hind legs and is dressed in a white dress shirt, a brown vest and slacks. He sees a muscular unicorn walk in-he glances at her. He notices she looks exhausted and is covered in sand and bruises. From behind his table, he speaks in a low, southern accent. “Ma’am…you look like you’ve had quite a day!” Ira nods tiredly. “I need your help, sir. I need some armor…” The frog looks at her, puzzled; he then goes into the back room to grab the armor. Ira looks around his shop absent mindedly, the walls are covered in weaponry and Chain Mail. The shop has one glass door, its one floor and made of old wood, and smells quite musty. The frog has everything in a large box, he speaks as he plops it on his table. “Well, okay….I must ask-and tell me if it’s none of my business, but when was the last time you ate and slept?” The unicorn looks down, then back up-surprised at his kindness. “I have no clue…” The frog sees how starved she looks, he then gives her a small pouch with about ten gold coins inside, he looks at her black mane-all tangled and filled with sand and smelling of salty water. “Go get yourself something to eat and get some sleep. I’ll hold these items for you, it’s the least I could do-you’re a beautiful unicorn who shouldn’t look so….down and out.” She gives a warm smile, “thank you sir. This is much appreciated!” The thought lingered that she was just wasting time…but she needed sleep. She physically could not go on anymore, she would rather be well rested-what if this dragon puts up a fight? If she dies due to starvation or something, Francis’ chances of dying would be raised all the higher. She then walks again down the sandy road, coming across an inn.

The inn is large; the unicorn uses her front hoof to knock on the door. An elderly woman wearing a tattered dress and apron answers the door. Her voice high pitched, but kind, her hair a silver color and curly. Ira speaks tiredly, “I need a place to eat and rest…just for tonight.” The lady smiles and puts her hands on her hips. “That’ll be five coins ma’am….my name is Clara and welcome to my inn!” Clara hands Ira her key, a skeleton key to be exact. Dangling from the key, is the room number: 6172

As Clara shows the unicorn around her very large room, she is delighted that she gets a fireplace, a bed and a nice big window. She rarely stayed in ‘hotel type places’, but she really did feel it was the right choice. The first thing Ira does is take a bath. Clara had to do some thinking, and she felt the easiest way to do this was to hose of the unicorn and scrub her down with soap.

Ira felt kind of bad that this old lady had to do so much, Ira tried to talk her out of it, but alas, the unicorn ended up outside-in the back of the inn being hosed off by warm water and soap, the feeling is amazing. The water feels like bath water, much like a shower. The white soap smells of lavender. Clara presumably had owned a horse before, she was very efficient at her job, and she enjoyed Ira. The white hair on her body became shiny and smooth as silk, her black mane and tail soon became shiny as well-the black was a very deep black. Clara asks the unicorn how things have been, Ira rolls her eyes and chuckles. “Well, I met this human named Francis, he’s a GREAT kid! Poor guy gets kidnapped by some psycho wolf…I go after him; I go to some enchanted forest or some bullshit-end up in a frigging cave with huge ass bees who have nothing better to do, then to sting me to death. Took care of them! THEN, I get abducted by some dudes, I escaped with the help of a nice goat, but one of the dicks who abducted me, stabs me with a knife and dumps me in the damn ocean! Then, I swim to safety, meet up with the dirt bag who kidnapped Francis-ask him for information, he tells me the human has been abducted by some big ass dragon…NOW I gotta go, suit up and hunt for the dragon! Oh my gawd!” Clara chuckles at the way she told this story, with speed and a lot of funny little mannerisms. After her amazing time with being hosed off and being incredibly clean, Ira decided to go to a local pub to eat instead of making Clara cook for her. Not many creatures are here, but being that it is now night time, a few creatures and humans drifted in for a bite to eat and a drink.

The pub had a classy look, the booths were made of dark red leather. A man in a tuxedo played light violin music in a dark corner. The waiter was friendly and well dressed, candle light illuminated the entire pub…giving it a very calming atmosphere. The bar’s drinks were more expensive than Ira thought. Ira orders some lettuce with vegetables and some water. She eats slowly, but eats a very good amount-and she tops the evening off with some red wine to calm her nerves, it’s nice to just sit in a booth and not have to worry. As Ira sits at her booth, humans’ sort of glance at her, some even chuckle. Seeing a unicorn, sitting like a human at a pub…is something maybe a little kid would think of. However, as we know-Ira is from an enchanted forest, so these things do happen in her world, and humans know that unicorns live in a special forest. She sips her fine wine with one hoof and looks at the small candle in the middle of the table; she begins thinking of how much she’s been through for this one human. How proud of herself she is for conquering so much. She takes a deep breath and leaves. With Clara gone to bed in her own place a few feet from this new and humble inn, Ira is able to go to her room, she quietly trots down the hall, reads the room numbers carefully. Ira takes her key out of the brown pouch, which now hangs by a rope around her neck-like a necklace. She enters her dark room, and flops on the queen sized bed-which barely fits the unicorn…but she doesn’t care. She falls into an extremely deep sleep….

 

Chapter 6

      

 The morning sun beams through the giant window, the unicorn stretches her four legs out. Ira then goes outside of the inn, the air is slightly cold, but it’s not unbearable, it’s dry however. Outside, the sky is clear blue; she leaves six of the gold coins at the front door of the inn before leaving. Just then, out of nowhere-a giant shadow swoops over the unicorn! She gasps and looks up-a dark red dragon flies a few feet above ground…and in his claw, he clutches Francis-who is screaming in terror. The dragon then flies higher and higher-and in the distance, beyond the town is a giant mountain….clouds loom over it, the dragon disappears into the distance…heading for this mountain. Ira stamps her hoof and runs into the weaponry shop where her armor is being held. The frog looks up in astonishment at the unicorn’s haste; he reads slight panic in her eyes. “I need that armor-now.” He nods quickly; Ira has found new energy within her. The store owner has the unicorn stand in an empty area as she’s fitted. First the silver leg plates go on all four legs. The armor only covers the front of her legs, the back of her legs are exposed for more movement, and the store owner speaks. “So, where are you going this early in the morning?” Ira speaks firmly, with a hint of heroism. “I’m going after that dragon to find a best friend whom he abducted. Don’t try and stop me; don’t try to talk me out of it. I’m going.” The frog shakes his head slowly-he fears for the unicorn’s life but does not say a word. She is then fitted for the upper armor, it is the same color silver as the leg plates, and the edges are gold and cover her entire back. He uses a brown leather string to tie all of the pieces together firmly…lastly comes the helmet. The shiny helmet clips firmly, it is shaped exactly like a horse’s muzzle, it goes from her horn, all the way to the tip of her nose. It is just in front of Ira’s horn, she can see pretty well, but has no peripheral vision with it on, so that part of the armor is slightly obstructing. Ira pays the frog the last of her coins-but before he could say she could keep them, she bolts out of the store-and right for the foreboding mountain…

 

 

 

Part 2: The Unicorn, the Dragon and CJ

      

 

Ira’s legs picked up speed as she dashes for the mountain, her armor clanking together-her breathing deep…her mind clouded with thoughts of Francis becoming hurt by this monster. She cantered across pure sand, no ocean, and no sign of life…just scorching desert. The small town disappeared-and before she knew it…she was neither close to the town, nor to the mountain. Her mind had become so obsessed with catching the dragon-she never thought of exactly how far away the mountain was. The unicorn stands in the blistering heat, the sun beating down upon her shiny, new and heroic outfit. The metal to her armor was now hot to the touch, the equine creature now trots-seeing if she can save some of her energy.

All around her, nothing but desert-sure she can see the mountain. Walking to it is a whole different story. In about ten minutes, her mouth became suddenly dry as a bone….she trotted, but due to the heat, her movements became slow. In thirty minutes, Ira’s movements were even slower and almost painful. She began sweating profusely-her breathing became shallow…she tried to trot more, but she started craving water…the unicorn then falls to her side. Her dry tongue flops out of the side of her mouth-she then coughs deeply. She is blinded by the sheer power, brightness and heat of the sun…an ominous shadow looms over her and everything blurs out and goes black….  

Chapter 7

 

The unicorn feels the air, drifts of cold breeze to be exact. The surface she lies upon is hard rock, she can tell she’s never been here before. She slowly opens her eyes; she stands up quickly and gasps. She is inside of a large, cave like structure. However, it hardly looks like a cave-it has the echo and chill of one, but really it’s a large lair. The dragon constructed the inside of the mountain like something out of “The Phantom of the Opera”. Parts of the lair are shrouded in grey smoke-this lair gives Ira the chills. Large, black chandeliers hang from the ceiling; dark red candelabras are placed around the entire area.

The ground is smooth rock; a large, fancy gate covers the entrance to the mountain. She hears large footsteps coming towards her-a strong force suddenly grabs her by the neck-she gasps in terror. The thing holding her…is the dragon himself! The dragon has two sharp horns on top of his head, a spiked tail, teeth as sharp as vampire fangs-his wings are a shiny black color. He uses his two front claws to grab Ira by the throat, his hind legs he uses to stand up-much like a human would. He’s what some might call an anthropomorphic dragon. Standing on two legs, and having a lizard-like body, the head and face of dragon-but having identical movements and mannerisms of a human-down to the walking and everything. He is not as large as a regular dragon-he is about 6 feet tall; however he, like Ira is extremely muscular. He also has insanity on his side. His voice is deep and gruff, he wears a black leather jacket. “So, little unicorn…you made it!” She then sees a sight that she only dreamed of week’s ago-she sees Francis!

He is knocked out-and hangs by the wrists, he is tied to a wall. His clothes are covered in dirt-he is covered in cuts. He is pale; he can hardly keep his eyes open. He is quite high up, but he certainly is alive. The dragon laughs, a deep maniacal chuckle. “Ira, this little human proved to be quite the helper! For, that is why I kidnapped him. See, humans-naïve as they are, think that dragons can just…do stuff all on their own. This is false-much like humans sometimes need slaves, we too now need slaves to fix our mountains and get us food when we would not dare venture into some of the larger, more ‘dragon hateful’ towns. Humans are our slaves, Ira. Francis was never going to die….on the contrary, I’m keeping him healthy. It’s just…today he tried to escape the mighty wrath of VANDAL-and now he is being…shall we say, ‘hung out’ for a while! I told him, the punishment for trying to escape-would be harsh.” The unicorn, still being held by his vice like grip, shouts. “LET HIM GO! Take me! LEAVE HIM you bastard!”

Vandal tosses Ira to the ground, due to her armor-the fall does not weaken her…it only pisses her off. From a corner of the lair, Vandal grabs a large, black whip-the tip of the whip is made of metal. He then shouts Francis’ name…then, he begins whipping him. The human screams in pain, blood pours from certain parts of his body. “You THINK you’ll escape, HUH human?!” Francis cries, but the dragon whips him four more times….every inch of Francis now hurts. The equine-creature slowly stands up, she is the middle of the lair-candles and fog surrounds her.

Ira then uses her front hoof to perform a sort of ‘uppercut’ and smack the dragon in the chin, he falls backwardsbiting his tongue by accident, he rubs his chin and spits out clots of blood, his tongue was nearly split in half. “Ohhh….Ira, poor Francis…will have to watch the slow demise-of his precious new friend!” The young man, dazed after the whipping-comes to. Just a few feet away from him, Ira stands tall in her gallant garb-he shouts her name over and over. “I promise Francis, I’ll get you out of here!” Vandal kicks her in the gut, she nearly trips. “Why are you keeping these petty promises? Francis works for me now! I truly hope to send you to Katrina-the TWO of you! She would really have a niiiiice time with you both! Quit being a fat ass, overly emotional little bitch!”

The unicorn looks at the dragon, her fleeting thought reads ‘who the hell is Katrina?’ Then, her eyes squint, she stands up quickly. Her four legs spread apart, in a fighting position her father had taught her. As Ira looks at him-she remembers that all dragons have a weak spot-and his was right on his gut-the tiniest black spot…you’d have to look for it in order to see it-but she had been scouting for it this whole time. She snorts and stomps her hoof. She lets out a sarcastic chuckle. “Bitch? You want to see me be a BITCH?! Alright then!” The unicorn charges at him…her horn heading straight for him like a flying spear. It is no use, once she canters up to him-he grabs her horn and pulls on it-causing Ira to scream in pain. He rips her helmet off and punches her in the nostril-dark red blood pours out of it. She nearly trips again, she shakes her head angrily. All she does is stand in the middle of the lair-deeply breathing, Vandal strands tall.

Suddenly, a white glow surrounds the whip-it is then forced out of his hand. Ira then stands up on her hind legs, and holds the whip in one hoof. All mythical creatures can do this, standing on their hind legs and holding objects in their upper arms. Ira did not do it often. The unicorn then begins whipping the dragon, he yells in pain-he knows she has the upper hand. Vandal falls to the ground; little cuts emerge on his scaly body. “So Vandal…not so fun being on the other end of abuse, is it?”

The dragon feels dizzy, he’s bleeding and worried for his life-the pain becomes so intense, that he cannot concentrate on anything more, the dragon is now lying on his back, the stinging cuts bleeding, he groans in pain. Ira then tosses the whip to the side, goes back on all fours-and jams her horn into the gut of the dragon. Vandal screams in agony, he tries to force the horn out of his stomach-but she keeps it in there-then she slowly drags the horn slowly, slicing opening his stomach and its contents entirely. Vandal’s eyes are wide open; he is in pure, horrified shock. He slowly dies, passing out as he begins to hold his large, gory intestine in his clawed hand…

Francis begins crying-Ira runs over to him and uses her horn to pick the locks that bind him…Francis hugs her tightly and cries more and more….she lets him hug her for a long period of time, for the first time-she whispers soft, consoling words to Francis-just hearing her voice, made the human feel a tad bit better.

 

Chapter 8

 

One Month Later…

 

The white, female unicorn walks the streets of Forlorn once again. The sun shines, the sky is blue and there is a slight breeze in the air, causing spots of yellow pollen to be lifted about the area. The day is just beautiful. Most of the scars she had gotten from the battle she fought were now healed. The townspeople no longer treat Ira as a stranger, some people come up to compliment her on a job well done saving the human and how inspiring it is that a creature cares so much for a human. She hadn’t seen Francis in quite a while, the last time she did spend time with him, he was asleep at her place, he seemed quiet, but she guessed the effect of being kidnapped by a winged dragon would be anything but bouncing with joy-he seemed shaken up by the whole thing. Ira approaches his house and knocks happily.

A few moments pass, Francis opens the door, he looks pale and dark circles are under his eyes. He gives Ira a hug and lets her in. The young man’s home is in complete disarray-Ira looks around, and the human knows she’s going to say something. “Francis, it is amazing to see you-but your home…could use a lot of work.” Her horn turns white and a few objects strewn on the floor float in the air and are put back in there place. Francis’ voice sounds groggy and sickly-he also sounds mildly irritated. “Yeah, I know Ira-my house is a complete mess. I really don’t feel good.” He sits on his bed and sighs, the unicorn approaches him calmly. “Francis-you look awful. Tell me what’s going on….” The human looks at his best friend. “W-well…I haven’t been sleeping, I’ve been having nightmares about Vandal the dragon….I try to sleep, b-but I can’t handle it….” Ira sighs in deep thought. “Why don’t you and I go outside? Get some fresh air?” Francis frowns. “I-I really don’t want to….” “Francis, have you been outside….today?” “Not in…like…” He thinks, but he’s only delaying his answer-knowing that it’ll only make Ira more nervous. “Not like in two weeks…” The unicorn groans a tiny bit. “Francis, that’s unhealthy. Get outside; it’ll do you some good.” I-ira please….I don’t want to!” She senses Francis is getting annoyed. Ira speaks in a slightly firm tone, but is careful not to yell. “Look, staying inside and worrying about stuff is horrible. Come on!”

“Ira! I said no….jeez, you’re so controlling. You…your personality…bothers me at times. You want full control over everyone, you’re overly strict-and sometimes you don’t care who you yell at!” Ira sighs deeply; she knows she can be a bit overbearing. “Francis, listen…I only mean to help you. Yeah, I can be…snippy at times.” The human looks up as she says her statement, he all of the sudden feels awful. “I-Ira…I’m sorry I said that. Y-you saved my life. I should be nothing but grateful to you.”

He begins to cry softly. Ira never knew that one dark event could change a human-Francis always had a slight tone of sadness, but he always seemed unaffected by his situations when around her. Now, he’s a lot more fragile. The unicorn nudges him with her nose gently. “No crying, Francis. We’ll go outside and take a walk…and you can meet my new boyfriend!” Francis sighs. “I want to be alone…come back later.”

Ira sighs, she then notices Francis pull out a small, glass bottle. He drinks the purple liquid inside of it, Ira gasps and yanks it from him. “You drink this?” She then glares at Francis. The human rolls his eyes. “Yeah…it’s a relaxation potion I got from an enchanted forest!” The unicorn then empties the bottle onto the floor. “Do you realize that drinking large amounts of potion counteracts and is like a poison? Huh? You realize, that you could die, if too much of this magic shit is taken? Hm?” Francis then begins to cry, the unicorn has a look of concern. “I-ira! I’m sorry! I REALLY am! I-I need help! The nightmares, the constant, horrifying thoughts-the looming thought of that dragon will NEVER escape me! NEVER!” Ira puts her hoof around her friend and nuzzles him gently. “Francis….let me get you in bed, how long have you taken the potion?” With tears in his eyes, he answers. “O-only for about two hours….I-I took two other ones this morning…Th-they helped…but I don’t know…” Francis then clutches his stomach, Ira cocks her head. “Francis…you okay?” The human shakes his head. “Ummm…n-no….I think I…I…”

Francis then runs to the back door of his house. He begins vomiting, almost projectile vomiting. The unicorn sighs-Francis was super embarrassed, why did Ira have to come at this time to see that? He coughed, vomited a bit more, Francis rubs his eyes and cusses under his breath. He then slowly back into the house. “S-sorry Ira….” He then begins crying again, he pats her muzzle. Francis lies in bed, the covers glow white as they are magically tossed upon him, Ira stands right above his bedside. “You need sleep Francis, you’re sick-no doubt about it. The nightmares will not hurt you. Take a few deep breaths, I’ll be back. I want you to meet my boyfriend soon, no more potions for you. I did a lot of work to get you back alive-no need ruining yourself now.” The unicorn then gives him a quick kiss on the forehead-she stays until he falls asleep.

That evening, at sunset-Ira walks into the local bar. A large, brown Belgian horse comes into the bar Ira is in. He has bushy black mane and white socks. Ira trots over to him and kisses him lightly on the lips. “IRA! You look gooood!” His booming voice echoes through the bar, some creatures’ chuckle at his hyper nature-others roll their eyes. She loves his accent, originally he is from Argentina.

The stallion named CJ has a certain rasp to his voice, and it is quite deep, but laid back, he has an aura of excitement about him, like everything he says is a huge deal. Despite him being kind of loud and energetic-he is a very ‘hang loose’ type horse. He doesn’t make anything a big deal really, nothing much bothers him. His parents were extremely strict and rigorous-and he always felt that others didn’t like it much. Certainly, he hated it-his parents wanted him to wear the fanciest horse blankets-he chose the most causal looking ones he could get. They wanted him to comb his mane, he never did.

So, ever since he hit his teen years (he is only a bit younger than Ira now), he really just loves to have a good time, he loves being with others, he hated any type of confrontation, his biggest trait was adding humor to dark situations and being slightly goofy-but he also knows when to be serious and doesn’t take everything for a big joke. He understood that sometimes he had to put his natural instincts and persona away, and become more calm and mellow out a bit. CJ orders some scotch, Ira orders a Rum Punch. They both sit next to each other at a small table. This is there third date. “You and human-still good, yes?”

The unicorn takes a sip from glass, she shrugs, and thinks deeply, glancing at both her boyfriend and the other customers at the bar.  “Well, Francis has been…distant. Oh my Gawd, I visited him earlier today-and he’s been ill, but I still want you to meet him, and he seemed irritated by nightmares. So, I really hope that this isn’t permanent-but then again, it’s hard. He was kidnapped by a frigging dragon, so asking him to ‘forget it’ is something that would be insensitive. So, I don’t know CJ” The horse swigs his drink, drinking almost the entire glass in one gulp-this horse can hold his liquor. “I should see him, yes? Cheer him up?” Ira smiles slightly. “Well, he hasn’t met you yet-and he seems very down, you can cheer anyone up it would seem. I think you should see him, I’ll come with you and we’ll take it from there.” Ira finishes her drink; she had two of them, so she is slightly tipsy-but not drunk by a long shot. CJ had one more glass of scotch-he certainly felt the effects, but like Ira-was not drunk.

In the evening, Francis spent his time drawing with a quill and ink by candlelight at a small desk in his apartment. He felt a heck of a lot better after the potion was out of his system and he had a nice long nap. The evening was somewhat cold, once he heard a knock at the door-he knew it would be Ira. He He grabs his cane, limps to the door and opens it. Not only does his favorite unicorn stand there, but also her boyfriend-a tall, brown horse with a light pink nose and slightly tangled mane. “Heeeey Francis! I am CJ! I hear all about you, yes! Hope you feel better!” CJ automatically hugs the human, Francis chuckles at his excitement. They both trot into the house, Francis smiles, he finds CJ’s accent to be very amusing. “Yes, I am him, Mr. CJ! It’s a pleasure to meet you!” He stands beside the horse, CJ nudges the human playfully. “Ira very special to you, yes?” As Francis nods, he sits back at his drawing desk. CJ looks over at what the human drew; it is a very nice sketch of Ira wearing her armor. Her facial expression identical to the one she had when she fought Vandal. It was no doubt, that Ira was Francis’ hero. The horse, the unicorn and the human spend time talking, Francis tells CJ about his past and how his father abused him.

As Ira went out to get Francis some water, he tells CJ what his daily routine was like and what kind of father he had. His biological father was named Russell. For the most part, since Francis had been born, he was always considered weak. His mother, Kit was never there, she was off having hardcore sex with other villagers, and even the king at one point. Yeah, she was beautiful-long brown hair, nice and a sexy walk. She wore clothes that were very revealing, she almost looked like a queen or princess. However, she was always drunk-which is why she’d have a lot of ‘alone time’ with men. When

Kit came home, Francis was a baby and was usually crying due to Russell hitting him a few times or flat out neglecting him, but since she was drunk-she’d be laughing and Russell would smile since he had such an attractive wife. If she was sober enough and wasn’t tired, Kit and Russell would often take things to the bedroom. Russell wasn’t bad looking, he was a bit overweight perhaps, but he did have a cute dimple and a way of talking dirty that turned Kit on. They would make quite a ruckus, with Kit screaming “Be my king!” or she’d bark orders at him about which way to push and when to pull out. She was into men taking care of her, so Russell and Kit were both fooling around, while Francis was left uncared for. The beating from Russell-led to one side of Francis’ brain being practically useless, his left leg was weak and so was his arm. The cane was like a life saver. Right before he was a teen, he had collected enough money from his Newspaper delivery job, to get himself his own place, the rest is history.

CJ had never heard of such a thing, humans being so nasty to each other, so the horse would make sure to really show that he wanted this human as a best friend, Francis was surly glad to add another one to his list…

Later that evening….

As the three of them slept, far outside a few miles from the town of Forlorn, Doran walks. He was actually looking for Ira-after their big escape from the castle, he wanted to make sure she was okay and also wanted to meet the human she kept on talking about.

The goat walks through the woods, nocturnal animals make their presence known-and admittedly spook Doran a tiny bit. He begins to worry that he’ll trip on a root or end up the late night snack of a wolf or Minotaur or whatever else could be here. However, what really gets his heart thudding, is a tall, cloaked figure heading for him. As this figure walks toward him, fog begins to roll in, the animals in the woods begin to run. “M-may I help you?!” The goat shouts, shivering. The figure is about six feet tall, removes the hood from her head. Her face…is a pale green color, her nose slightly large and pointy-a hairy wart protrudes from the end of it. Her hair is long and black; she looks to be about seventy years old. This mysterious woman says not a word, but her stare sends Doran into a feeling of terror he’s never felt before.

As she reaches out to touch the goat, he sees that her hands are also green, her black finger nails, long and jagged. She lightly touches him on the shoulder, the goat all of the sudden has trouble breathing. He drops his lantern. She recites some dark magical spell…the goat’s eyes slowly begin popping out of there sockets, blood oozes out of the gaping holes, and he collapses into the mud.

She reaches into his coat pocket and finds a map of the entire town of Forlorn, as well as all the towns surrounding it…she smirks, the sun begins showing it’s full form only moments after Doran’s untimely demise…  

Chapter 9

 Francis’ eyes slowly open, the first sounds he hears this morning, is the sound of CJ talking to Ira, both speak in low tones. Ira was asking questions about how CJ liked this human, and the Belgium horse seemed to like Francis. A smile forms across his face, he rests, just listening to them whisper and chuckle with each other. He then realizes, he is in his bed, he remembered the night before, being asleep next to his two favorite equines-on the floor of his apartment. Francis stands up, the two horses look at him as he sits at the large table they stand beside of. CJ is the first to speak. “Mister sleepy human! You good, yes?” He nods tiredly and pats the two horses; he hasn’t felt this happy in a long while.

Francis loves being with Ira of course, and CJ is just a lot of fun-he truly hopes the two of them spend ample time with each other, because in his mind they make quite a cute couple. Also, Francis didn’t have one of his many nightmares about Vandal abusing him or treating him as some slave, so that also helped a lot. The human gets dressed and heads out to deliver the morning paper, CJ follows the human, wanting to learn more about him, and Ira heads out to go check on her own stable.

The unicorn yet again walks the streets; however, she is stopped by a knight. He seems rather stern. “You’re Ira -the one who rescued the human from that dragon not too long ago?” The unicorn nods-in a slightly confused manner. “The general would like to see you.” Ira raises one eyebrow. “Me? What’s the meaning of this?” He then gently leads her to a place in Forlorn she had never been.

 

 

Chapter 10

 

She could have easily kicked him and ran off, but she did sense sincerity in his voice-also, she knew she could get in huge trouble for attacking a knight. “I cannot say yet why he needs you…you know how to fight well?” Ira rolls her eyes, her voice filled with annoyance. “Look sir, I’m not some pawn you can just bring to random places-I want answers! Why would a general need to see me?” The knight was getting quite annoyed with Ira’s irritability-but he knew once she knew the importance of this matter, she probably would pipe down. He had never before met a unicorn with such spunk.

The knight leads her to a very large building, it is not quite as tall as a castle however-but still large enough to house at least sixty people. The building is made of shiny metal. The roof is flat and made of brick. Large, stained glass windows surround the building’s walls. The building is protected by a huge, metal gate. The double doors of the building are pushed open-and lead to a great hall. Ira’s hooves tap against the marble floor. The marble floor has a shiny white and dark blue color pattern. Black and gold chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Giant windows to the outside illuminate the hall. In the middle of this large, marble hallway, is a giant silver table which is long and filled with food and drinks. The unicorn looks around at the walls; massive portraits of fallen generals-including Mortous, her father are hung. The gold frames are polished,

Sitting around this elaborate table, are about ten knights-and one of them has a large red cape. He is about seventy years of age and has a grey beard. The knight in the red cape removes his golden helmet in a respectful manner. “Ira, no one will harm you. Let your guard down.” His voice is slow and deep. “My name is Colin. I am the general of the entire army of Forlorn. You, Miss. Ira are here-for a very urgent matter. A matter which puts this town, in grave danger.” The unicorn trots up to Colin, she now knows where she is.

On her trips to Forlorn, her father spoke of this well-respected building, where the protectors of the town lived, now she was here and she was quite stunned of how well the building looked. “Sir, it’s a pleasure to meet you-but I’m still confused as to why the hell some knight would take me to one of the most respected places in all of Forlorn.” Colin then puts his hand gently on the unicorns’ neck, her white fur is soft and shiny, and her black mane and forelock are straight.  “We have word that someone means to destroy this town. Someone who has dark powers that surpass our armies by a long shot. This someone is a witch. She’s murdered a lot of humans and creatures-and we fear that she means to kill us all.” Ira tries to wrap her head around everything.

“Wait, so some magical, sorcery type bitch is killing others-you think she’s coming here to destroy the town…okay…and you know your army is no match for this woman.” Colin looks at Ira with grave seriousness. “We need you to help us. If this witch is indeed to destroy this town-and we’re pretty sure of it….she came here once before. We had to rebuild our entire town. Bottom line Ira, is that we’ll need the help of another magical creature, to even have a possibility of destroying her once and for all. Unicorns are highly powerful…”

Ira chuckles in disbelief. “Whoa! So, you want me to join your army to kill this hideous bitch?” Colin stands beside the unicorn, admiring her well-kept body. “Yes Ira-we think you have the cunning intelligence and power to kill the witch….I know how you saved that human’s life, Francis. I know you disemboweled a dragon-I truly think you’re the right one to destroy a witch. You’ll save…thousands-as I say, she’s killed a lot of creatures. I know a lot about her, she’s nasty. Hell, sometimes in the evenings…she sneaks into parent’s homes and kidnaps infants and….murders them. Specifically, she sucks there blood to keep her youth.” Ira looks at her hooves sadly, then back up.

“Fuck…she kills infants, kills creatures-all for personal gain, I guess?” Colin shrugs sadly. “Well, I guess so-no one knows why she’s so…malevolent. All I know is that her name is Katrina-and our army wants her dead. Will you help us, Ira?” The unicorn thinks for a moment, Vandel the dragon had mentioned that name. Was he working for her the whole time? It was a possibility, being that he knew of her. Colin looks at her with pleading eyes. “Yes. However, at the moment, I am looking after Francis-if some darkness is going to take over the city-he’ll need protection.” Colin nods and smiles a bit. “I knew you would say that…come, let me show you who I have in mind to watch Francis.”

Ira follows Colin past the metal table, and down into a large room, almost like a large basement-with a lot of windows, food and water. From out of a dark corner-a seven foot creature comes out. Ira is shocked to learn that this creature-is a dragon of all things! He walks on all fours; he is dark purple, with a bit of spiky, black hair on top of his head. His wings are purple as well; he goes up on his hind legs and smiles. He is quite young, perhaps the age of a teen judging by his voice.

He is a ‘classic looking’ dragon- a European dragon to be exact. “Ira-it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Matthew-and I would be…SO honored to look after your awesome human!” Ira nods and smiles, sensing kindness from him right away.

 

Chapter 11

 

CJ and Francis walk back to the human’s place. “You do good job, Francis! You very professional yes! Many, many newspapers!” The young man sits down after a long day of delivering papers. He grabs himself a glass of water, CJ lies on his stomach. “Thank you, CJ! You are quite an awesome horse!” Ira’s boyfriend nods “Yes, I try!”

Unexpectedly, Ira comes trotting in. “Francis, CJ…I need to talk to you both.” CJ and Francis sit beside each other, Ira stands in the middle of the human’s apartment. “So, today I spoke to the general of our army in Forlorn. He told me…he told me something bad is going to happen. He didn’t tell me when, but he told me of a witch named Katrina. She’s killed many innocent humans-and I guess she’s struck here before.” Francis begins to get very nervous; CJ lightly puts his hoof on his shoulder. “I will stay with Francis, yes?” Ira sighs and approaches her boyfriend. “Look CJ, you’re an amazing friend for Francis, and you’re the best boyfriend I could ask for…but, you’re….a horse. I have to be realistic with you on this…you wouldn’t be able to protect Francis-should shit hit the fan.” She looks down at the human, who hasn’t said a word. “Francis, this is important. I have someone to look after you. I need to go away, I need to stay with the general and hopefully get Katrina when she comes. In the meantime, step outside back.”

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Darkness Falls

 

      

She gently leads him out the back door, the area behind Francis’ home matches Ira’s backyard-grassy with trees a few miles down. It is a completely flat meadow, standing now in front of Francis, Ira and CJ-is a purple dragon. He stands on his hind legs and smiles sweetly at the three of them. The first thing the dragon notices and is concerned about is Francis’ limp and need for a cane. Francis’ eyes get wide…he begins to have trouble breathing….Ira stands in front of him. “Francis…look at me buddy. This is Mathew, and he is a very kind dragon….trust me.” The human cries a bit, images of Vandal invade his brain, like a smack across the face. Francis shakes his head. “I-I can’t d-do this….Matt…p-please stay away.” The dragon however, is not offended by this. He was told that the poor guy was abducted by some insane dragon, it’s no wonder why he may have some prejudice thoughts-but they needed to be dealt with here and now. Ira sighs; the dragon dares not approach the human. “You can’t think that of all dragons-like humans, they’re all different. It would be like someone judging you for having a limp-please Francis, give Matt a chance. Talk to him…he loves talking, he will take good care of you while I leave, and CJ will be here too!” Francis takes a deep breath, stands silently…and then ever so slowly approaches Matt.

The teenage dragon goes on all fours, Matt’s head is now level with Francis’ chest-only when he stands fully, is he his full height. The young man reaches his hand out and slowly pats the dragon’s nose. Matt smiles and speaks in an extremely friendly, but soft tone. “Hey bud! Nice to meet ya!”

Ira knew she had to leave to be with the general and his army; they would need to discuss where Katrina was and how they think she would strike. She would have to leave early if she wanted to make it by nightfall. While Francis understood why she had to leave, he truly hated seeing her go. He imagined the worst possible thing happening to his hero. He was sure glad to have CJ and Matt at his apartment while she was gone.

 

The Next Day

 

The building was bolted-knights surrounded the building. The unicorn again steps into the great hall, Colin meets her at the entrance and show her to her room. Her room is huge, bigger than her stable. The walls are dark purple, a large queen sized bed is in the middle of the place, Colin had also hung a photo of Mortous above her bed, a beautiful painting to be exact of her father looking stern and trussed up in gold armor, every detail of the stallion was intact, the best part of the painting however-was the accuracy of the horn of her father-so dark looking, and yet somewhat beautiful-like she remembered it.

Being that the night was still young, Colin and Ira decided to take a walk along the building’s grounds. Lanterns lit up the night, crickets chirped. Ira and Colin casually walk; she admires statues-all of them horses ready for battle, they walk behind the castle.  “The section we’re walking in Ira, is dedicated to the equine royal guard. I knew your father-he was one of the best leaders.” The female unicorn nods. “Thank you, sir.” Colin clears his throat, as he talks-Ira’s ears move around, back and forth-so he knows he is being listened to. “So, I had a patrol go out not long after you had left, and we discovered Katrina’s castle. It is in the enchanted forest-the one where you got stung by the pesky bees a while back. I have the directions on a large map inside, the castle is large-it is black with a very sharp and pointy roof-it’s an ugly looking thing. Our men could not get in-I would have feared for their lives, witches have so many powers-and the ones who choose to be evil, are normally sick in the head. It’s just a horrible combination-and I would never tell…the townspeople this…but I fear that whatever we do, will be somewhat in vain. This being said, I want her dead.” Ira nods and glances at her hooves a few times. “Of course I’ll help in any way I can. It’s just, with dark times coming, I worry about Francis….a lot.” Colin raises one eyebrow, suddenly recalling the human Ira cared so much about. “How is he doing with Matthew by the way? They are getting along, I hope?” Ira sighs a bit. “Yes, I think so, I think the whole dragon thing made him poop his pants to be honest with you, but I truly think it’ll be alright-my boyfriend is there too. I hope no harm will come to any of them.”

 

Chapter 12

 

The next morning, Francis awakens-CJ and Matt talk outside. The sun shines over the entire town; the day is muggy-however a nice breeze is in the air, almost like sailing weather. Francis was glad he had a day off from delivering newspapers, he’d get socialize with the dragon and the horse for the day. The human listens to the two voices coming from a short distance and goes outside. Matt and CJ smile, the dragon’s voice is chipper.  “There’s the human, morning!” The young man chuckles, the dragon heads back into the human’s home and lies on his stomach, he fits into the place quite well-however, a few items had to be moved. CJ decides to stay outside and socialize with townspeople. “So Francis, you sleep okay bud?” Francis goes over to a wooden bucket at the end of his bed and splashes water on his face. “Yes, I can’t stop thinking about Ira though.” The dragon, still on all fours walks up to the human. “Well, you want to do something awesome? Like…go for a fly?”

Francis looks at the dragon…says not a word…and nods. They both head outside. “Okay Francis, hop on and hold onto my neck. You’ll be on hundred percent safe, we won’t go high…” CJ looks at the human on the dragon’s back. “Francis…you crazy human! You no pay me to sit on dragon! Craaazy!” The dragon scoffs. “HA! He’d be crazy if he said no! Now, Francis, we’ll start off slow-and if you get scared, let me know and we’ll land. Okay?” The human nods-he never thought in his life he’d get to fly on a dragon, he was nervous-but he didn’t let this stop him. Matt spread his wings out; he slowly flaps his wings and begins to take off. They’re about three feet off of the ground…Matt stops flapping once they hit about five feet. “You okay Francis?” The human speaks in a tone that reads awe inspired as the houses of Forlorn are a bit small looking. “I’m good!” While Francis never showed excitement very much, inside his heart fluttered in inspiration and awe. The purple dragon swoops around, above the enchanted forest and even flies above the beach where Ira found the wolf that kidnapped her favorite human. Francis would admit-this experience was life changing!

Ira sweats hard as she was in the middle of performing a well-paced jog outside. A young soldier walks outside and notices the unicorn, he is about eighteen years of age-he had only heard of the unicorn being here-and he happened to catch a glimpse of her working out. He ever so slowly walks up to her. Her ears twitch, she continues running laps-in between breaths, she speaks and glances at the casually dressed kid. Ira gives out a quick smirk. “Hey, how are you?” The young man blushes and clears his throat. He is about five feet tall and has short blonde hair, he is thin and has blue eyes-Ira figures girls might just like him-however, he is extremely shy. “I-I’m well…I’m Kyle. Colin told me you were going to be here…” Ira knows he’s staring at her, not in a creepy way-but she could tell he never saw a unicorn before. Her forelock drips with sweat as she runs, her black mane bounces. He also can’t help but not stare at her horn-the sun light bounces off of it-creating a rainbow effect around the beautiful looking weapon. The one thing that through Kyle off, was her voice-normally he may imagine a unicorn speaking in a soft and monotone voice-however, Ira spoke not loudly, but her dialect was quick and to the point-she gave off a sort of ‘edge’ to her tone, not mean-but just unexpected for a unicorn, which is pretty much what everyone thinks when Ira opens her mouth. “Would you like to go for a walk w-with me….Ira?” Kyle asks in a shy and friendly tone.

They walk outside of the building walls, they walk through a meadow-Kyle really feels slightly giddy-unicorns were always his favorite creatures and to be able to be with one was an honor. “I sometimes…think that unicorns…well, perhaps have….’less emotions’ than we do. Like-they don’t worry or they’re not as hyper…as we are. You’re different though…you’re….talkative and from what you’ve told me about Francis, you’re assertive.” Ira smiles, she’s so flattered that yet another human is interested in unicorns-and not from an ‘I can make lots of gold off of this creature’ kind of way. “Well, yeah-most unicorns are very soft spoken-most of them like and may even care about humans, but are not around them for a long while-most live in some huge forest and take things very delicately and are ‘pure in soul’ and blah, blah, blah. I think I have a different demeanor, because it’s sort of how my dad raised me, I’ve always been different from other unicorns. I’m quite talkative and…I guess you could say even spunky at certain times. My biggest ‘normal’ attribute is my horn and I have indeed been compassionate I guess-but really, even other unicorns looked at me as being a lot more outgoing and as you said, assertive-but it’s me and I wouldn’t change anything.” Kyle and Ira then sit in the middle of a meadow, birds tweet in the air, a small butterfly flies around the two. The unicorn sits on her hip, her legs stretched out to one side, she chews on a long blade of grass. “So Kyle, do you have a girlfriend?” The human blushes and rubs the back of his neck. “N-no ma’am, I do not really think I’m…well, cut out to be a boyfriend.” The unicorn smiles, sensing that Kyle looks down at himself quite often. “Well, how do you picture it? You picture your girl being some princess, locked away in a castle-while you’re a daring night off to slay the dragon that holds her hostage?” Kyle laughs a bit.

“Well, not quite. If I had a girlfriend, I’d want one that would protect me!” Was he flirting with Ira? She sure thought so after that comment, but she laughs it off. Ira speaks, looking right at the human. “Wow Kyle, that’s quite interesting! Not many men, especially young men would think that.” The human felt…very connected to Ira. Almost like he had a crush on her, and he thought she could sense it as well. Ira found it cute, and as long as he didn’t go into ‘creep territory’, she figured Kyle’s admiration was just innocent she was flattered that he felt this way in fact. Kyle felt very comfortable around Ira, he sort of knew that if he ever dated a girl-the type of personality he’d go for one, would be one like Ira’s. Protective, confident, slightly spunky and beautiful.

Perhaps Kyle would be up for actually asking some girl out now that Ira spoke to him? Who knew the possibilities? Ira, Kyle, the soldiers and Colin gather at the table to talk of Katrina’s untimely coming the next day on a cloudy afternoon, Katrina is a subject which they know still very little about- apart from two things. A few dead bodies around the area that have been caused by black magic, secondly, they had to rebuild the entire town because of her, but she wasn’t seen by many. Kyle spoke to a few soldiers about his time with Ira, Colin told Ira more information about the witch. What types of poisons she uses, how she’s killed others, and Ira spoke of her magic as well. Ideas were forming. In the evening, Ira steps into her room.

After all the sun she got throughout the day, she did feel tired. Someone knocks at her door and peeks in. It’s Kyle “I’m sorry to intrude Ira, can I come in?” The unicorn nods, lights a lantern by her bedside and smiles, the human closes the door gently. “I’m scared Ira…” He sits on her bed, the unicorn stands in front of him, looking concerned. “Of Katrina and all that stuff we were talking about?” Kyle nods and takes a deep breath. “I’m only a teenager, Ira. I can’t be off, fighting a witch or whatever.” Ira glances at her hooves. “Kyle, teens are in war, we need all the help we can get.” The human interrupts her. “I don’t think I can fight. I know I’m going to die out there, I can sense it! I’m meant to be…you know a newspaper delivery boy or something! Ira, what if I can’t do this? What if I’m the only one worrying? All the other boys my age are out and ready to fight, but I’m just not!” “Kyle, the more you worry, the worse this will all get. What would help you get through this?” He thinks for a moment. “C-can I stay with you?” The unicorn thinks things through, would it be possible? Equines and humans would be separated, horses in the back, humans in the front lines. “I’ll…I’ll talk to Colin, okay? Now, I don’t want you up worrying all night-just go to sleep.” Kyle nods and stands up. “You’re a beautiful unicorn Ira, and you inspire me. Until we meet again…” Ira smiles slightly.

 

Chapter 13

 Back at the apartment, Francis, Matt and CJ have been well. Francis now really likes Matt and trusts him, which considering he went from hating dragons-to at least feeling comfortable and even friendly around one, was a huge step.

Ira’s boyfriend decides to take a walk outside. At first, the friendly, brown horse is happy, he says ‘hi’ to the townspeople and makes others laugh like he does…however, grey ominous clouds begin to form over Forlorn. CJ cocks his head in pure bewilderment.“H-how come it rain so fast?” The townspeople begin running into their homes, the clouds only become darker-CJ, being a horse and having a ‘fight or flight’ response…runs. As he does so, the wind kicks up and the clouds begin to part-revealing even more darkness. “Tornado-must warn Matt and Francis, yes!”

Inside the apartment, Francis stays close to Matt, the dragon begins worrying about CJ-but he dares not fly in to look for him in this weather. “M-matt! D-do you know why this is happening?!” The scaled creature looks outside…he happens to get a glimpse of the local graveyard…armored skeletons begin to slowly crawl out of the grass. There movements, slow and eerie. The dragon swiftly locks the door and locks the windows-sure he could go out there and fight-but his duty is to stay with Francis…and that is what he will do. A lump begins to form in Francis’ throat. “M-MATT! Yo-you’re scaring me….” The dragon puts one hand on his shoulder. “Well…you wouldn’t believe what’s happening if I told you….but I cannot lie. Dark forces are now at work…and I’m going to stay with you every moment, alright?”

The wind picks up more, which makes the apartment shake a bit-screams can be heard from outside. The young man hugs Matthew looks down at the human and consoles him by rubbing his back and speaking softly. “Its okay buddy…I’m here….”

Ira at this moment, is now in new armor-the silver is shiny, on the rims of the armor, are golden designs. This armor fits a lot better than the old one the unicorn once had-it’s soft padding and weight are much more manageable when the time comes to fight. Colin pats the unicorn’s neck.“Ira…we’re all going out there…all the men-you know the plan. Katrina IS doing this…go to the castle and stop her. She’s controlling it-kill her and it all ends.”

The unicorn nods and takes the back way so she is not instantly spotted by hundreds of skeletons rising from the depths of hell. Ira is just about to leave, when Kyle comes running up to her. “P-please IRA! Don’t go! I-I consider you a friend!” The unicorn shook her head, she had no time for nonsense. “You’ll…you’ll get yourself KILLED! You’ll be in DANGER!” The unicorn steps back, not wanting to hear this whining anymore; Ira’s voice turns ice cold and angry. “As far as that Katrina bitch is concerned-I am the danger.”

Francis’ apartment gets instantly raided by undead warriors-the skeletons jump about, tear apart walls, the human yelps a bit-he knows as long as he stays close to his friend, the dragon-he should be safe, the human then grabs his walking stick and begins whacking more skeletons that Matt does not notice. In between fighting, the dragon steals a brown, leather tote from the human’s desk with gold engravings-and quickly tosses in various potions-healing potions and water. The human steps behind Matt as he blows fire all around the house, incinerating most of the warriors that had invaded the home. Matthew then quickly flies in the air to do a surveillance check around Forlorn-half of the homes is torn up, and more skeletons are brutally killing townspeople. The dragon quickly lands right outside of Francis’ now crumbling apartment; he knows he must get the human to a safe spot.

The young man stands right beside the dragon, and shields his eyes as Matthew spits out fireballs from his mouth, the fireballs cause tiny, fire-filled explosions which make a loud ‘pop’ sound on impact, killing many of the skeletons that attempt to slash at both him and the human. Matthew notices the human nearly trip as he briskly attempts to walk him to an area where he won’t be attacked. He notices Francis is pale.“Are you alright? You look ill!” Francis begins having troubling seeing straight…his vision becomes blurry, his stomach begins turning. “I-I think….I-I’m having a panic attack…” Sweat begins to pour down the human’s face and he begins to feel lightheaded. More and more undead warriors clobber at Matt, he brutally bashes them with his wings and his strong arms. As he swats them harshly with his claws, the skeletons’ bones literally fly all over the place and before dying, the warriors let out a high pitched scream. “Alright-well, I’m getting you out of here!”

Matt gasps as black tipped arrows sore through the sky! He glances over at where they’re coming from; the warriors from hell now have acquired bows and arrows, and they fly faster than any human made arrow ever could. The purple dragon then tosses the human onto his back-now in any normal situation, he would just fly away from the skeletons, however-being that now arrows were being used….that could mean that Francis could get easily hit, also didn’t help he was completely out of it….as the dragon goes on all fours and breathes more fire onto the enemy as he makes his way outside and begins to briskly jog towards a safe haven….he notices the bloody carcass of CJ….his mouth wide open in terror and the whites of his eyes showing-Francis bursts into tears….

 

Chapter 14

 

The unicorn canters through the enchanted forest, whispering to herself the turns and signs that she needs to get the witch’s castle. As she nears closer to the site, she is now back in the Enchanted Forest where she needs to be. Now that darkness has taken over, the trees are tall, the ground is full of thorny bushes, thunder roars in the distance and little rain drops begin to fall. All the life that was once there, has now died. As she canters through the forest, zipping past trees and nearly tripping on large thorns, she wonders how her home is doing, but it is only a passing thought. More undead skeleton warriors begin crawling out of the forest floor and try to attack Ira.

She manages to fend them off by striking them with her horn, stabbing them in any area she can. The ones that jump and claw on her back, she swiftly kicks them off with her back legs like a wild animal. More and more skeletons appear-but she still fights hard and goes for her destination…she begins slowing down from sheer exhaustion of fighting-images of Francis and Matt instantly begin permeating her brain-the thought of them and the entire town of Forlorn dying by the hands of Katrina-was something she could not let happen. Her heart pounds and sweat drips down her body, she can barely stand up…she faces her muzzle to the ground. She didn’t want to admit this to herself, the task at hand was already beginning to just bog her down, make her feel that maybe she’s taken on too much. NO!

The unicorn takes a deep breath, and even though her body was aching, almost pleading for her to stop moving-she ignored everything and cantered a few miles…she was almost to Katrina’s place, her heaving breathing had caused pain in her chest-she knew it was only caused by the strenuous running-she would stop…wheeze a bit, then canter…she would do this for as long as she needed too. See, if the woods were a straight path-she could run it no problem, but the castle was up a few large hills-which she wasn’t used to. Her aching body and overworked lungs said no…but her heart shouted ‘COME ON, BITCH! DO THIS! DO IT, CANTER!’ She cantered faster…she knew she could rest when this was all over, if she quit now-she wouldn’t have a chance of beating the witch!

It seemed too good to be true! On top of a large hill, at the end of the forest-lies Katrina’s castle. The unicorn canters up to it, no more trees are around, the forest is behind her now. This castle is at the other end of a large, grassy meadow. The clouds are now black with a bit of dark red mixed in, and a warm wind begins to kick up. This castle is black, and made out of pointy rock, like Colin said. Ira now stands about two feet from the door, the door is made of black metal, and a giant lock is smack in the middle of the entrance.

Unexpectedly, this large door opens and the witch comes out. Her skin, dark green, her nails long, her nose slightly hairy-her four yellow teeth protrude from her lips like a demented hillbilly. Her outfit is a long, black flowing gown, she looks to be about sixty years of age, her hair is black and long, her eyes are an emerald green color. Her voice was actually quite deep and not high pitched like you may expect. Ira’s horn glows white as she prepares to fight. Katrina approaches Ira, smirking. “So unicorn-you made it. IRA…I know all about you, the human Francis, that purple dragon, your little boyfriend. I know your life, and I know how you’ll DIE!” Once those words came out, the grass beneath the unicorn’s hooves began to crack! The crack becomes so large, is engulfs the unicorn! Ira yelps in terror, she attempts to catch her balance-however, she ends up tripping and falling into the ground, facing up towards the dark sky. The unicorn attempts to use her horn and jab it into the dirt wall beside her to stop her fall-but realizes it’s no use; this is black magic after all. She falls deeper and deeper…until her back slams against a slap of wood-a sharp pain radiates through her spine and the ground quickly closes up, engulfing our hero….

 

Chapter 15

 

 

Matthew and Francis had gone through the meadow, around through the back area of Forlorn-where no houses were to be seen and a few cattle stand. Matthew knew of a nice small cave, his brother used to live in it before he died. Dragons tend to know where caves and other similar landmarks are. The cave is almost shaped like an igloo-with its circular roof and small doorway. It’s sort of known as a ‘pit stop’ for mythical creatures, so the place is kept very well. No cobwebs or creepy insects’ crawl-it’s just a cozy cave. Colin actually ordered to have a place like this be made, he knew the importance of unicorns because of Mortous, and therefore was inspired to have an area like the small cave a few feet from Forlorn be kept up and such.

Matthew lets Francis off of his back, outside the dragon had gathered a bunch of sticks-he places them in the middle of the cave and gently blows fire upon them, quickly igniting a warm fire. The cave is small, and could really only fit two people, being that Matt is shorter than a lot of dragons-the size of the cave works. The walls are smooth, a cool breeze goes through the cave, making the temperature lukewarm and comfortable. The dragon sits on his haunches, the human sits by his side. Francis looks into the fire and begins to cry. Matthew notices and gently nuzzles the human with his nose. “Francis, everything will be okay….I’ll keep watch of everything, you will not get hurt….” The human sighs, in an almost annoyed gesture. “It’s n-not why I’m upset! O-one of my….b-best friends is DEAD a-and the town…the town is…in ruins! IRA is still out there, sh-she could be dead!” The dragon puts his arm around Francis. “In times of war, it’s a sad and horrible fact that both humans and creatures go through times of loss, times when hope seems to just vanish, and Ira…well…think about it. She can’t be dead…she’s a spitfire!” The dragon ruffles the human’s hair a bit, making Francis chuckle. “Y-yes…that is true. She’s a warrior…and so are you!” The dragon blushes. “Weeeell now, let’s not get all sentimental heeere!” They both chuckle, Francis clears his throat. “S-seriously though…I-I feel like I’ve learned a-a lot. I went from having this awful prejudice against dragons-to being best friends with one. I also gained a unicorn as my best friend-jeez, my life went from boring to…to being full of strange, almost t-twisted adventures. I-I think my biggest worry will be Ira…when she finds out CJ was killed.”

The dragon nods and rubs the back of his neck tiredly. “Yeah…I’m sure the…proper arrangements will be made….”

“Matthew, why did you…errmm…want to take care of a human?” The dragon thinks for a moment, he clears his throat. “Well Francis, I think much like Ira on this one, so many creatures disregard humans, especially dragons. Hell, what are we known for? Burning towns and villages, stealing gold? Horrible stuff and I just couldn’t partake in that. I felt I was better than that-sure other dragons rejected me for it, and I was maybe even despised by others in my clan…eh, but I shrugged them off. In my heart, I know being nice to humans is the right thing to do. It’s just…something inside me…that tells me to be nice to them, and I’m wondering how many creatures actually have that inside of them a lot of times…I want people to remember me as that one dragon who was nice…perhaps Ira and I will be written in the same history book, huh?”

 

 

      

 

 

Part 4: All Things Considered…

        

The forceful slam upon the wooden slab had knocked the wind out her. As she came to, she started feeling lightheaded. The unicorn’s voice echoes as she speaks. “Holy shit balls!” Immediately, the unicorn tested to see how much she could stand up-she rolled over to her side-she started to stand…her horn hit dirt, she was practically in a ‘crawl like’ position. Like with many of these awful situations, her ‘horse instincts’ kicked in. She wanted to panic, to thrash about-make noise! She restrained however, no use wasting her energy; she needed it to get out. As her father told her, ‘the ones, who beg, panic and scream for their lives are the ones who often die in horrifying situations.’ Another thing she knew is that underground, she wouldn’t have a lot of air. She could perhaps survive here for about thirty five minutes or so before needing oxygen. She found it peculiar that she was on top of some large wooden slab-what was this? What was it doing under the ground? The horn on top of Ira’s head glowed white-which actually gave her a giant advantage-she wasn’t blind and helpless. Ira pawed at the slab with one hoof-then noticed that this large wooden item was a coffin.

Katrina had buried someone, or something in here before-and she intended on having a unicorn join the tombs. That certainly was out of the question-the unicorn then uses her head to thrust up-to try and get to the top. Her horn being used somewhat like an upside down jackhammer. Ira begins to feel dizzy, various worms and cobwebs land on her as she digs and uses her legs to push herself higher and higher and higher still. She then moves her head back and forth to make more room for herself-she wants to breathe heavily, but does not suck up too much air-for the fear of losing it. She finds it extremely hard to move about, she can only move a few inches at a time-it was times like this she hated being a horse.

Very rarely did the fear of being in tight spaces scare her-but in this instance, she was a tad bit scared. She tried not to think about it as she pressed forward; she just kept thrusting with her horn to the top. As she pushes through the dirt, particles of rock and dead insects fall straight onto her face and into her eyes. She shakes her head as she tries to get a dead ant out of her eyelid, she is now high enough to the point where she can stand up, but being that she has her bulky armor on-this task is just too difficult to perform-she had a very strong urge to take it all off…but she knew she needed all the power she had to fight against this great evil.

The climb up seemed to take hours, she begins using her front hooves to scratch at the very top-she knew once she broke through this tough ground, she would be set to fully climb out and kill the witch. If you were standing near the castle, more specifically at the entrance, your foot would have surly been stabbed because a very sharp horn at this moment, bursts through the ground, it’s covered in dirt-it moves back and forth…

“I-its okay Francis….lie down…take it easy!” The dragon does not act concerned, but he is. He hides his nervousness-knowing that it wouldn’t do the human any good to worry more than he already is-but there’s no denying it, things had gone bad. The dragon lifts up the young man’s shirt-and sees a the small metal object, protruding from the young man’s stomach…Matthew would admit, seeing the blood spit out once and a while made the dragon sort of queasy. From a corner of the cave, Matthew brings out the small brown tote he had been carrying around with him. He yanks out a green bottle with a brown cap-a small card dangles from the cap. Matthew knows what the words on the card mean-so he quickly takes the cap off and pours some of the deep purple liquid onto the wound. The human yelps in pain. “Sorry buddy…but it’ll help. It’s a magical liquid, specifically for pain relief. The knife that this skeleton carried, is quite powerful. Man, I feel so…guilty for…leaving you.” The human chuckles “Well, I needed to go to the bathroom at some point! H-how were you supposed to know some undead…g-guy would come out of the bushes?” Matthew sighs, and knows Francis’ condition will worsen….

As the sky turns dark blue, the dragon becomes too nervous to fall asleep. Francis, now cannot stand up. His head pounds and his breathing is labored. Who knows what this dark magic could do to a human? Matthew sits down, his arms folded, his elbows rest on top of his knees. Francis speaks, in a tired and sickly tone. “I-it hurts….it hurts….” Matthew then moves closer to the human and sits right by him, his legs stretched out and his arms crossed-seeing a human in pain like this is something that the dragon cannot bear. He leans up against the side of a wall, Francis decides to rest his head on the dragon’s leg; his leg is very warm and smooth-kind of like a snake’s body. Matthew then notices the human close his eyes-his breathing still labored-should Francis die and the dragon be held responsible-he knows Ira would never, ever forgive him for as long as he lived. Mathew lightly places his hand on Francis’ shoulder, making the human feel much more comfortable.

Ira’s white hair was hardly visible due to the thick, brown mud that covered most of her body. Her horn also was caked in mud, her black mane, tangled; dirt dangles from a few strands of the mane. Her armor is rusty and squeaks a bit as the unicorn trots up to the dark and foreboding castle in front of her. She begins to have recollections on how her life was, and how her life is now that Francis is the main focus of her existence. She takes a deep breath as she looks straight at the door of the castle-the door swings open easily and she trots into the dark room, she hears her father’s voice in her head as she does so. She remembers the last thing her father said to her on his death bed. ‘The extraordinary is in what we do, not who we are.’

Ira’s horn glows as she enters the dark building. The floor is marble, the walls are black-Katrina is nowhere in sight. The witch is still performing evil atrocities across Forlorn…

 

 

Chapter 16

 

Francis can hardly keep his eyes open, Matthew can still hear a battle going on. The purple dragon is so afraid for his human friend, Francis senses this fear-and as much as he likes Matt-really, really wants to see Ira. The dragon knew that the only cure for this black magic was unicorn blood-and Ira would not be back for hours, Francis could be dead by then. Matthew could theoretically go out and find another unicorn-but he would need to go into the deep enchanted forest and Francis would be left out in the open for far too long. The dragon had hardly interacted with a human of Francis’ age-he was excited for a long while-but now, thinking that he may die in a short amount of time…is a thought that he never thought he’d have to face. He looks at the human, his breathing labored; the dark magic is making his way to him, he knows he only has about two hours to live if Ira does not get to him first. Matthew sheds a single tear…

The main part of the castle is lit by a large fireplace with purple flames. The floor is white marble, to the left of the fireplace is a large stained glass window, which overlooks the town of Forlorn. Katrina is, about six feet tall and dressed in a flowing black dress. She stands and watches the carnage from this window.

Some of the buildings are lit on fire; the warrior skeletons still hack and slash the remaining villagers. The walls of this room are red velvet, Katrina has now taken the form of a twenty-something year old woman with straight blonde hair and bright red lipstick and long red finger nails. This incarnation, is her true self. She turns slowly as she hears the clip clop of Ira’s hooves against the floor, she looks at the unicorn. Ira has certainly felt better in her life, she’s covered in dirt and bruises-her armor is intact for the most part, parts are a bit bent however. The unicorn stamps her hoof, she flicks her tail in anger and her eyebrows go down.

The witch walks up to the creature with a smirk. Her tone is quite happy sounding. “Ira…I’m surprised you made it this far! You must really care about this God forsaken town, huh?” Ira snorts and speaks.  “This is not the day to be bullshitting me.” Suddenly, Katrina raises her arms, three tall pillars made of black rock shoot from the floor, Ira whinnies in terror for a brief moment-then she composes herself-like she always does.

The pillars reach to the top of the roof, then light purple electricity circle around each rock formation. The witch charges at the unicorn and grabs her by the neck, slamming her up against a wall. Ira dares not struggle too much, Katrina now has a lot of force-and Ira wants to keep her energy as high as she can.

“Let me tell you a story, Ira….a long time ago, I was once like every other girl. Kind, gentle to animals, that sort of stuff, I loved unicorns especially. One day, I fell in love. This man was literally my prince charming. Like in the fairy tale books! I was bound to live happily ever after with this hunk.” Katrina then tosses Ira to the marble floor; she coughs violently as she falls on her side. “However, the man betrayed me. Fell in love with some other blonde, and really-it was not that, that frazzled me. It was the fact that every fairy tale I had been taught was a downright, fucking lie. I tried falling in love, but the men kept on leaving me, one even committed suicide.” Ira scoffs and begins to stand, Ira glares at the witch. “Can you blame him?!”

The witch then kicks the unicorn in the gut, the pain does not phase the equine creature-she stands there and winces in pain…she knows it’ll go away shortly. “Fairy tales Ira-are dark, you cannot expect to have a magical world like this one-and have everything be dandy! It’s just NOT PLAUSIBLE! There is no such thing as a happy ever after, not even in fairy tale land. I now do what every woman in a fairy tale really wants…power. Oh yeah, why did Cinderella marry Prince Charming? To live in some rich castle, so she could have servants and stuff. Why did Snow White look at the prince? To live in a rich castle- think any of these princess’s would get all attracted to some peasant? NO! They’re attracted to them, because they have power in the towns they live in. The princesses want control…they WANT POWER! We all want power, Ira. It has nothing to do with love-it about being above everyone else. We all want control, to leave our so-so lives…to get rich and to have virtue-it’s a shame your fairytale has to end so…very…tragically.”

Katrina then swings a few punches at Ira, the unicorn uses the blunt end of her horn as a sort of shield, but it doesn’t work well as she feels one or two punches smash into her face. The unicorn throws a kick or two at the witch, grunting as she does so. Katrina then pulls out a knife, seemingly from thin air and stabs Ira in the front, right leg. The unicorn screams in pain and nearly falls-but does not. She knows that if she falls, the witch will have the upper hand.

The unicorn glances at the blood-filled gash on her leg, the pain rises and rises. Ira then looks at the three pillars-she wonders why they’re swirls of purple electricity around them…then she realizes. It could be the source of her power! Katrina chuckles and cleans the blood off of her knife.

The unicorn growls slightly, she stands up, Katrina is right beside her. Ira uses her left front leg to swing a hit, right into the witch’s mouth, the witch screams as blood pours out of her mouth like a fountain. The unicorn then canters over to one of the pillars.

She jams her horn into one of the pillars-the horn glows bright white, this is the most power she’s ever had to use in her life. She pulls out and the pillar fades away. The witch then screams in anger, she grabs the unicorn by the tail and pulls hard, a tear goes down the unicorn’s cheek because of the sheer agony of her tail hairs being pulled off.

Ira uses her back leg to kick the witch, a bit of her tail hair is gone because of the attack. The unicorn does the same exact thing to the second pillar, she limps quickly over to it-jams her horn into it and it fades away.

Katrina then leaps onto the unicorn’s back and rips the armor off; she begins using the pieces of armor to hit Ira in the head. Ira then stands up on her back legs and flips the witch off. The unicorn now has no armor-but she uses her strength to jam her horn into the last pillar-it fades away…. The witch now can barely stand. “YOU IDIOT! YOU RUINED EVERYTHING! I-I was going to let you rule with ME!”

The unicorn, muscles bulging out and covered head to hoof in blood, scabs, bruises and dirt-looks straight at her-by now, the unicorn couldn’t even stand the sound of the witch’s voice. Ira’s voice is cold and stern, like a teacher reprimanding an awful student. “Oh my Gawd! You know what-you’re a spoiled, rotten girl with the mind of a ten year old. You could never get over yourself, with your perfect looks, falling in love with men-when things didn’t go your way-you harmed others.” Katrina screams, blood still pours out of her mouth from the punch-she spits out large clots of dark red fluid.

“NOT TRUE! YOU’RE JEALOUS! You’re angry because I’m much more powerful than YOU!” Ira then limps over to the witch and with her one good hoof, steps on her stomach. “Jealous? No. While your species is more powerful than I, you’re an unhappy woman with her priorities screwed up and you belong in a mental asylum, you violent scum. Your little ‘fairy tale’ sure came to a swift end. Now, if you don’t mind…I have a human to save.”

The unicorn then slowly stabs Katrina in the gut, she slowly slides it into her flesh, causing her to scream in pain. The horn goes deep into her, sliding ever so painfully and with perfect precision. Ira then lifts her head up, the witch now dangles from the horn, and she groans loudly as spots of blood spray out of Katrina’s abdomen-Ira then cocks her head to the side, causing the body of the witch to crash through the large, stained glass window overlooking the town.

Pieces of glass protrude from her body. She falls about ten feet-her head then smacks against the side of the castle as she falls-causing brain particles to splatter, she falls onto the cement with a cringe-inducing smack, the back of her head now a gaping hole. The unicorn then shakes the blood off of her horn.

 

Chapter 17

 

 

The skeleton warriors have now dissipated, however-the town of Forlorn is in ruins.

A new day, is upon our characters. Matthew and Francis still sit in the same cave-the morning is now coming. A light fog forms over the land, a slight chill is in the air. As the dragon hears the trotting of an equine creature coming close, the dragon’s tail perks up. Out of the fog, beaten and bloody, Ira slowly limps into the cave, at first, all the human and dragon could see was her silhouette. Her right leg bleeds profusely, Matthew without saying a word-grabs his brown tote, picks up a clear, glass beaker from it and collects some of Ira’s blood. The blood is then poured onto the entry wound in the human’s stomach…and like magic, the wound and blade disappear.

While Francis still looks a bit ill-he sure looks better than he had. Ira then collapses to the ground, the dragon sighs. “I-Ira! You alright?!” The unicorn speaks, in a tired-but somewhat healthy voice. “Y-yes…let me sleep…please.” Ira had officially lost it all….she would be okay, but she was literally so beaten up and exhausted-that she couldn’t even stand….

Two Days Later…

 

After a few appointments at the new town doctor, Ira ended up being fine. She has a large stitch on her right leg, and her face is still a bit bruised up-but the doctor said that being that Ira was indeed a unicorn, her power kept her alive. Ira got a nice bath and really, with all the battles she went through, she came out great, her white body sparkled, her black mane and tail a shiny shade of dark black, she smelled of strawberry soap.

The unicorn literally did nothing for days but lie down and take naps, Francis insisted on staying with Ira, and like her, did not do much, because the black magic from the knife was so intense, that it left the human with flu-like symptoms, but the two would be up and going again soon. Matthew, the dragon stayed very good friends with Ira and Francis-and would move back in with Colin, once his army building was re-built.

The town of Forlorn would indeed need to be re-built; the events that took place killed many of the townspeople. In the large field in back of Ira’s stable, a memorial was built for all the fallen townspeople and soldiers.

The day was warm, with a slight breeze in the air. The sky was light blue, white cotton ball like clouds floated. The sunlight reflected Ira’s beautiful horn, a few of the townspeople hugged her for everything she had done for the town, and while normally she wasn’t a huge fan of hugs, she let it all slide, she knew sometimes hugging was indeed okay.

The memorial was a large tombstone, smack in the middle of Ira’s backyard practically. Kyle, the eighteen year old soldier, died; a good portion of Colin’s army had fallen as well. Francis felt extremely heavy hearted through it all, as he read what seemed like a never ending list-what hit him the hardest however, was reading CJ’s name on the plaque. He hated crying in front of Ira, she was so strong and so ‘tough’ that he felt ashamed to-but he couldn’t help it. The unicorn understood, she let her friend weep for CJ-of course, Ira felt horrible that her boyfriend had died in such a tragic way. She loved how he had a lot of energy and happiness-and while she too felt melancholy, she did not cry.

Ira just stood and let Francis hold onto her neck. She stood in silence, in deep thought. Thinking of the times they had. Thinking how perhaps she was maybe even going to have foals with him, thinking of how well he and humans got along. In fact, she thought of all the names. Especially of Kyle, he was only eighteen.

Ira remembered fondly how he talked to her, she knows she would have continued to talk to him-had he not died in battle. Doran’s name was on there as well, Ira had nearly forgotten about him.

How he helped her escape from prison-she began having this extreme feeling of both loss and regret. Loss because these were all people who gave her a helping hand at one time, and the regret came from not talking to them, not keeping in touch or anything. Had Ira been a human, she may have wallowed in self-pity a bit-but really, unicorns do not do that. In fact, the only reason why Ira may have had this feeling of regret, is because she spent so much time with Francis and helping him out.

For a unicorn to even think of regret was a rare thing. The newest emotion Ira learned from it all was worry. Unicorns do not usually feel worry-they feel when they have friends of course and will talk to them if they need it, but they tend not to think of if they will lose the friend or not.

Ira was similar to every other unicorn, but meeting Francis-opened up new emotional venues. All would be helpful in the long run. Her being a unicorn though did help-had she been a normal human, she most likely would have died in some battle or other.

Luckily, a lot of the equine creatures are able to protect what they own with their magic-the creatures can handle a lot more than humans. If you were to ask Francis though, it was all in Ira’s spirit, not in her being a unicorn.

While Ira had felt these kinds of emotions for the first time, she was not really scared or upset. She took them as they were, she felt proud to be different than the other unicorns, and she knew others of her or similar species would go up to her and ask her about these emotions, and she would give the best answer she could….

Francis decided to take a nap in his new and improved apartment after the big emotional outburst he had, he felt exhausted after all the emotions he had just been through, not to mention the stress of the battle. He knew however though, he’d always miss CJ-he never would really get over his death. Ira had to decide what to do about the human, so much crap had happened, that she really didn’t have time to think about his fate until now. He had been living alone for quite some time now, and she decided that it was not safe for him to be alone. He longed to be with others, human or creature.

Francis would love if Ira could take care of him, but the unicorn felt that to be inappropriate. She would not just be living in Forlorn, being in the town was a mere stop on one faithful day. She needed to live in the enchanted forest with other unicorns, that way she’d get all the healing she needed. She’d get all the things she needed to keep her strength up-to keep her horn in working order, all these thing important for a creature. Francis could not go with her, a human living in a forest filled with creatures could only mean trouble-and while a good majority of creatures were kind to humans, another bulk of them was not.

She felt the best option would be adoption-now, she would send out the word that a human needed a family. However, she wouldn’t leave it at that-she would meet with the human or creature who wanted to take him home, make sure they weren’t violent or unsupportive, Francis was a huge part of her life-and surly, she would never leave him in the hands of someone uncaring.

Even though she would live in the enchanted forest, she promised Francis she’d visit him at least twice every three months or so-and the human would be happy knowing that his hero wouldn’t have to be missed forever.

 

Three Weeks Later…

 

Ira was back doing her exercises; Francis was back to his normal talky self. The town was still being rebuilt, new buildings would be made out of brick and metal-also, a bunch of unicorns were hired instead of regular horses to keep the place far away from evil doers.

One evening, Francis decided to visit Ira-he knew she’d be leaving for the forest the next week, so he wanted to say a sort of final good bye to her. Her stable was still the same pretty much, the chandeliers still hung and she still had the many rooms-and Francis even reminisced about the night he met Ira. The unicorn lay on her stomach, tired, but not tired enough to sleep.

A knock on the door surprised her, but she was happy to know that Francis was there. He gave her a nice hug, they spoke for a bit.

The human was a bit saddened that no one wanted to adopt him, and deep down-he truly wished Ira could be his mother, but he understood why that could not be-but Francis did confess that he would always look up to her like a big sister or cousin. As they spoke of the happy times they would have in the future, yet another knock echoed through the stable. It was Matthew, he looked great-the human gave him a hug as well. The two creatures looked at each other; the dragon seemed to be in very deep thought. He cleared his throat. “Ira, can I speak to you alone?” The unicorn nodded.

The night was cool, the two sat in the meadow, a few feet from the memorial of the fallen ones in the Katrina battle. Crickets chirped and the moon shined brightly. The two sit on their haunches, Matthew couldn’t figure out how to start the conversation, so he just went with his gut. The young dragon rubbed the back of his neck, his tail moved about slightly. “I can’t get Francis out of my head. Being with him…evoked so much emotion, I-I found myself so attached to him. Humans to me…just….make me happy. They’re smaller than me, and I feel this great need to protect them-and dragons have such an awful history with them, that I love nothing more than to make them feel comfortable….you know?”

The unicorn nods slowly, she can’t believe she’s about to say what she will-but she knew that if Francis were to get another family and never see the dragon again, Matthew would be heartbroken. Ira sighs happily. “Matthew, I know you’re fond of Francis-and he loves you dearly. Well….see, I don’t know if Francis told you about his cane or how his human father beat him when he was an infant?” The dragon sighs sadly, he glances at his feet, then back up at Ira. “Well, I can’t live with Francis-and he has no family. I…I’m asking you…if you’d like to…huh, no pun intended…take him under your wing?” Matthew at first chuckles and blushes. “W-well…i-it depends….you mean like…baby-sit him?” The unicorn smiles and shrugs. “Well, sort of. See, I know Francis is going to need help-and I need to go back to the forest where I came from. Would you want to watch over him until a family adopts him?” Matthew then feels a bit light headed, not in a bad way- but in a ‘holy crap, is this a dream?’ kind of way. “Ira, the only two possibilities for the future of a dragon are to become a weapon, or to become shunned. I-I….well, this third option of looking after a human for a while….I just….don’t know if I can say ‘no.’ Helping humans has been a dream of mine….for a long while…wow….I-I don’t know what to say!”

Ira smiles says not a word….

 

Chapter 18

 

Ira knew she would have some very interesting stories when she got back to the forest with the other creatures. While she would miss Francis, she really did need to go back. The next day, Francis and Matthew both hugged her and she promised them she’d be around in a while. Going back to the forest was very nice. The sun acts as a sort of giant spot light, beams of light shoot down onto certain areas- adding to the dream like quality of the entire forest.

Unicorns are the most well-known creatures that live here, but they’re also fairies, elves, talking sheep and crows. Ira did quite enjoy it, and she was truly happy there amongst her friends. She also knew the layout well, after all, this is where Mortous raised Ira when she was a foal. As she walked down a large path, all the unicorns greeted her with smiles, all very soft spoken and pure. They were mostly white, with white manes and tails-but some were grey-speckled as well. Some were a tan color as well. She told them everything, from when she first met Francis-the killer bees, Vandal the dragon, Colin and all the way up until Katrina had her dark rage over Forlorn.

All the creatures who listened to these stories became quite fascinated-they were especially amazed that a human treated a unicorn so well, and they all wished to see a kind human like that in the future. Ira did tell them that when she would go back to Forlorn, providing it was safe she would bring along some of the other unicorns to meet Francis and Matthew. Ira was also treated with magic for her wounds, which completely healed once she took a small dip into the warm, hot tub like enchanted lake-which healed all wounds once you set foot in it.

 

Two Weeks Later…

 

Ira loved being in the forest again, she loved connecting with all the creatures, she loved taking naps outdoors in the warm sun without having to worry about onlookers like she had to when she was in Forlorn. Being in this forest, made Ira glad she was a unicorn-she felt like she belonged here in the mystical, wooded area.

As Ira went for a morning swim, dunking her head under the water and just feeling content, a male unicorn walks up to her-he’s a light gray color, he is sort of the ‘chief’ of all the unicorns in the land, he had taken that position after Mortous died. He cleared his throat, and gestured her to get out of the river, she shook herself off. “Greetings, sir, what brings you here?” The equine creature sighs. “There is…there is an issue. At a town, just a few miles from here. From what I’ve gathered, humans are being hurt…and after hearing your tremendous story…I felt that maybe I should send you out to investigate.” Ira nods confidently. “I will do my best sir….”

She loved his voice, because he sounded exactly like her father and had a very similar presence. Once more, Ira is fitted with some armor-identical to the one she wore when she fought Katrina. She was glad that whoever made this armor, made sure that the head piece did not cover her whole face, but only the very top of it leaving her jaw, muzzle and mouth exposed, which was something that had helped her throughout the battles she fought, it just felt more freeing. The eye holes were also bigger than they had been in the past.

The unicorn runs across the field, charging to her destination. The sun beats down upon her white coat and metal armor-her mane blows in the wind. She sighs, deep in her own thoughts. Composing herself before going to this new place.

In life, I had always set out to find my mark. I learned, in our darkest moments-when life flashes before us. We find something-something that keeps us going. Something that pushes us….forces us to be strong, forces us to push and push when our bodies say ‘no.’ find this hidden strength…and use it full force. You’re only going to live once-be who you’re born to be….me? I’m a born protector

 

The End

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