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The Last Unicorn Horn
It was a special time; a time of peace and serenity; a time when all beings of Earth coexisted together. But this time was a time long ago. And it was also a time before the fury of the great unicorns.
It was a warm summer night. The waves lapped calmly against the shore, and a gentle breeze blew in from the sea. The moonlight enveloped everything, transforming the night into a silver paradise. Two people lay on the beach that night. What happened changed everything.
The woman stood up, her golden hair, silver in the light, flowing in waves down to the floor. 'You know,' she whispered, 'of the unicorns?'
'Of course,' the man spoke in a deep voice, soft and peaceful.
'Do you' know the location of the horn?' the woman responded.
'Know of the location?' The man let out a quiet laugh. 'My dear, I have the horn with me right now. You thought I would leave it unprotected?'
The woman gasped. How is that so? she wondered. No one knows of the horn. No one but' The woman gasped again, louder this time. She looked up at the man. His face mirrored hers, surprised but calm.
'You know you want it,' the man taunted, his voice low. 'All you've got to do is ask.'
The woman was speechless. Finally, she looked up. 'The horn, if you will.'
She held out a hand, expectant. Her eyes followed the man as he got up and went to his sack. He reached in and, watching the woman carefully, pulled out a white horn.
The horn glowed with power. It was changing colors, blues merging into purples and pinks and greens. It illuminated the entire beach with a radiant glow. The woman stared with awe and amazement.
The man walked back over to where the woman was standing. He closed his hand around the horn, and then opened it again. Without a word, he placed the horn carefully into the woman's hand.
'Edric'' the woman stuttered. 'They said you had it' the whole tribe. But how'?'
'Don't talk. Just listen. But you can't tell'them what you see now or what you're about to hear,' Edric said. 'Please, don't.' His eyes were imploring her. 'Karine, if you tell them, it will all be over. Everything we worked to keep in the shadows. Gone.'
Karine gazed deep into Edric's eyes. They were begging her. Thoughts were swirling through her head, but she knew what she had to do. It was the only way. She nodded.
Edric took a deep breath. 'A long time ago, unicorns lived in peace with humans. Unicorns didn't interact much with humans or any other animals, so people left them alone and the unicorns kept to themselves.
'One day, the people found a unicorn near the forest. She was on her side, dying slowly. The people were astonished. Before they thought about it, they were dragging her into the town to a hospital.
'Despite their best efforts, the unicorn died. Of course, they didn't know that unicorns could only be revived one way: mixing the tear of an ice bear with that of the unicorn and having the unicorn absorb it into its horn.
'After the unicorn died, the villagers saw a great opportunity. They cut off the unicorn's horn. They had always wondered what the horn was made of. From far off, it looked like a pearly kind of horn, but they kept to themselves and had never gotten close enough to a unicorn's horn. Until then.
'A great whinny was heard from the forest. A herd of unicorns went pounding into the town.
''Where is it?' one of the unicorns bellowed. 'I know you have the horn. WHERE IS IT?'
'The townspeople were frightened. They had thought of unicorns as calm, tranquil animals who ate grass in the forest all day. Now, they knew better.
'The doctor stood up, his fingers closing around the horn. His fellow villagers watched him as he wobbled towards the great unicorns. His legs were trembling uncontrollably and his voice was a mumble.
''Unicorn,' he began. Alas, even that was a mistake.
''You dare to call me 'unicorn'?' the first unicorn shouted, his tone louder. 'You shall address me by 'sir' and nothing else!'
''Y-y-yes sir,' the doctor stuttered, beginning once more. 'Sir, it has come to my understanding that you came here to get a unicorn horn, correct?'
''Of course!' the unicorn shouted. 'What else would I come for? What in this wretched town has any value to me at all besides that horn you hold before me?'
'The doctor was speechless. 'Well then, you shall have it,' he said finally, completely helpless against the majestic animals before him. He sank to the ground. His grip loosened and the horn slid out of his possession and onto the floor.
'The head unicorn took a step towards the horn, and the doctor scampered away in fear. The unicorn dipped his head down low and, before the eyes of the townspeople, transformed into a human.
'His hair was dark brown and tousled. It was curly and messy and covered his forehead. He was clothed in a simple white shirt and handmade tan shorts. He bent down easily and grabbed the horn in his hand. All the while, the villagers watched in awe and disbelief.
'My name is Talo, but you shall repeat what you have seen or heard from no one. According to you humans, we are harmless, peaceful animals who graze in the forest all day. Let's keep it that way, shall we?
'The villagers, one by one, nodded their heads. The unicorns watched, knowing that it would be mere years before the first of these humans broke their promise. Alas, it was their life. They could choose to throw it away, or they could choose to keep it. It didn't matter to the unicorns.
'Talo transformed back into his unicorn form once more. The villagers, yet again, looked on in amazement. There was a brief silence. Then Talo began talking.
''I know that you will try to deceive me. I know that you will try to tell others. And I also know that you will fail. Your hard work and perseverance means nothing. Anything is possible for us unicorns. We can revive the dead. We can kill you with a mere flick of the tail. We can catch someone breaking a promise with us even before they know they are going to do it. We are everywhere. Ander was one of our best fighters,' Talo broke off for a second to mourn the death of Ander, the unicorn whose horn he now held, 'but he is gone now, and reviving him would not be' preferable. Remember your promise. Remember these words. We will be watching. Nothing is impossible for us. Remember this, and you will not be harmed. But break the promise, and you will be at sudden death. The lives of traitors do not concern us, but the innocent will be unharmed. Remember.'
'And, with a gentle breeze, they were gone. The entire tribe vanished. Talo's last word was still ringing in everyone's ears, and would ring in everyone's thoughts for the next couple of years. Remember. But the next couple of years were the last time of happiness for the people. For one would soon break the promise. The promise that was life-binding. The promise that changed the life of unicorns and humans alike. The promise that was broken by Rolin D. Broon.'
'But Ander is also the name of the great forest bear,' Karine cut in.
'Patience, my dear. It will all be explained in good time,' Edric replied. 'Now, let me get back to where I was. Ah' I remember.
'As you know, Rolin broke the promise. But what you don't know is that Rolin was a doctor; the same doctor who had tried and failed to save Ander. The same doctor who had cut Ander's horn off. And the same doctor who thought he could trick the almighty unicorns.
'Of course, he couldn't. But he tried anyway.
'One day, he was treating a patient with a fatal disease. Unfortunately for him, he caught the same disease the patient had. He lay on his bed day and night. A week after he caught the disease, he had a strange feeling. A feeling that he was going to die that day. He knew. So, he called his only son over to his bed.
''I must tell you something. Something important,' the doctor said. 'I am dying, and I must tell you this. Come closer.' The doctor beckoned his son forward.
''I know of the unicorn's secret,' the man spluttered. 'They' ' he had a brief coughing fit' 'they can change into humans. And their horn, it has some special power. So special that they would go to desperate means to keep each and every one of their horns. Please, son, remember this. You musn't forget. If you forget, and don't pass it on, they will never be exposed. And they will never be hunted down. Please, for me. Remember.'
'There was a silence. It was a long time before the boy looked over at his father, resting peacefully on his bed. It was then that the boy realized. His father wasn't sleeping, but he was dead. And in the middle of his forehead was a bright red mark. A hoof print, to be precise. It was a sign. A sign that the unicorns were coming.'
There was an eerie silence. Karine kept her gaze locked on Edric, a look of shock crossing her face. She tried to say something, but she couldn't trust her voice. Finally, Edric spoke.
'Of course, that fight is long over. Many unicorns were slayed in that terrible but significant war, but the unicorns triumphed. Eventually, the human race had slayed all but seven unicorns. Those unicorns are still alive now, but not for long. Even I do not know where they are. They have chosen to fight. They know it will lead to sure death, but they are willing to risk anything.' Edric shuddered as the wind's gusts blew harshly.
Karine's face hinted at anger. 'Well, of course they would fight to the death,' she said, trying to keep a calm voice. 'How could they not, after all the terrible things that man have done to them?' Her voice had risen to a shriek, and the pleasant night was suddenly gusty, chilly, and dark. 'After the tranquility that the unicorns had given them, they thought to betray us! They as good as slayed Ander' How could they?!?'
Edric backed up to the forest and watched as the winds blew harder and a heavy downpour began. And, right in the middle of all of it, stood Karine. But she was no longer a human.
A beautiful pearly horn cut through the darkness, and Edric saw a great unicorn standing on the beach. Finally, he knew. Karine had known everything all along. He had been used, just as a way to get the horn. Angered, he leaped onto his horse and sped away. He caught a glimpse of Karine on the beach, neighing wildly. With the horn, she rode off into the darkness.
Edric continued to speed away. Thoughts of confusion and curiosity spun through his mind, but he could only be sure of one thing: As of now, the real fight between man and unicorn had finally begun.