Two weeks ago, I started writing a story about unicorns, partly inspired by my take on the maze prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers, and partly inspired by a prompt about unicorns on A Writer’s Path from two weeks ago, where one of the prompt sentences was: Haven’t they ever seen a unicorn before?
Warning: this is not romantic, or cute. Given what you see in movies and on TV these days, it’s probably harmless, but still… the term unicorns may be misleading. The story is neither sweet, nor cute. If you don’t like violence and blood, please don’t read. I’ve been practicing writing something out of my comfort zone, and I’m not 100% happy with it, but I’ll post it anyway. Criticism/suggestions are always very welcome, if you’re so inclined. The Friday Fictioneer drabble will probably come tomorrow, I’m still waiting for inspiration. Enough said, the bloody unicorns are under the cut.
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Haven’t they ever seen a unicorn before? Maybe not. They were all so very young…
The disciples of the Order of the Pure stared wide-eyed at the army facing them. Each unicorn—proud and beautiful with its long, golden mane and silvery-white coat—carried an elf rider who seemed to be far too heavy for the fragile-looking beasts. But the added weight of chain mail, leather shields, long swords, bows, arrows, spears, and magical staffs didn’t seem to affect the graceful animals at all.
It did affect the disciples of the Order. As if triggered by a secret signal, they were acting in perfect synchronicity: lifting their automatic weapons, aiming, and firing. The first line of elf riders fell. The surviving steeds kept charging. I watched unicorns and people being slaughtered, and beauty being spoiled by blood and gore.
The next wave of elf soldiers emitted a battle cry that still makes the hairs rise at the back of my neck, just by remembering it. Unicorns and riders charged full force. The disciples of the Order were not impressed, they stood steadfast, died, and let their bodies brake the onslaught like a dam breaks the flood. Automatic weapons may be useful at a distance, but the closer an enemy approaches, the more inefficient these weapons become. Have you ever tried to hit a fly in front of your nose with a broomstick?
The Order soldiers in the rear still fired their guns, and there was a group trying to circle the elf army and shoot them from behind, but this was quickly detected and stopped. The unicorns went into a frenzy, and their riders hardly needed to do anything. An angry, charging unicorn will rip your torso open as easily as you pop a piñata. With a quick thrust, and a shake of its head, your intestines dangle from the horn, being spread around like evil smelling, giant worms. When death comes that way, it isn’t gentle. However, there wasn’t a whimper, nor scream to be heard from those eviscerated. Instead of submitting to the mercy of the elves, or quickly ending their own lives with a dagger, the Order soldiers would grab an explosive device, something resembling our hand grenades, and detonate it at an opportune time. Watching the two armies thus slaughter each other, I wondered in what way we might be related to them, because, frankly, I could see little difference between them and us. Apart from unicorns, pointy ears, and magic, this could happen on any battlefield in our world, for similarly cryptic reasons.
I sat still, frozen in shock and horror, tied securely to my dragon, and watched the carnage. There was nothing I could do but watch. Walking through a portal to another dimension may be a romantic, adventurous idea in our world, but let me tell you, there is nothing romantic in that world behind the divide. Being forced to watch the brutal battle, I shivered from fear and desperation. I hardly remembered that I was riding a dragon, a fact that normally would have fascinated and terrified me. But the beast beneath me emitted a calming warmth, and its steady breathing made it clear that the going-ons on the battle field didn’t affect it at all.
Dragons are stupid, or so the elves told me. Unicorns and elves were the first creatures I met after I’d walked through the gate two weeks ago. They took me prisoner. I would have to earn their trust, and the privilege to ride a unicorn. Then, maybe, they’d include me into the proud army of warriors who are eternally fighting the Order of the Pure because both people can’t agree on ‘The Truth’. These battles seemed to shape, to define even, their lives. Of course I would have a similar raison d’être, there was no doubt about that in their minds. In due course, there would be a unicorn, and honour in battle for me, too, but for now, a dragon would have to do as my steed. I was supposed to watch, and learn about the enemy.
The Order of the Pure—the enemy—were a strong, but volatile people who weren’t squeamish, nor did they believe in mercy. They believed in technology and science, used automatic firearms, and didn’t care one bit about tradition. All this was an affront to the tried and trusted ways of the elves, and their magic. Each side was convinced to be right, the other side had to give in, or be wiped out.
Do I want to learn to fight the elf way? As I very obviously am not an elf, I have no magic whatsoever. I would be handicapped from the start, barely more than cannon fodder, so to speak. And how could I possibly defend the way of life of a people that has no understanding, nor tolerance, for those who don’t share their own philosophy? I did not dare to ask this question while the elves taught me their ways. But you can bet on it that I will use the first opportunity to get back to the gate and leave this horrible place, never to return.
My horror grew as I watched the progress of the slaughter. The Order’s losses, as well as the dead on the elf side, were difficult to count, since the suicide grenades had made one giant mess of people, and unicorns alike. If I’d have to guess, I’d say that the elf losses more or less matched the Order losses, and both went into the thousands.
The smell of eviscerated bodies, sweat, fear, and burnt flesh made me nauseous. I doubt that I’d be able to gain honour with the elves, wanting it or not. Surely they would detect my fear? I am not an actor, my emotions are usually clearly visible on my face. How could I hide my disgust from them?
Maybe I should defect to the Order of the Pure? But that would be like jumping from the fire into the frying pan. I wondered if I could fake discipline; being celibate wouldn’t be a problem: none of these violent people so much as tempt me to get friendly. I suppose these disciples, female and male alike, were the original models for the tales and legends of virgins who charm unicorns; tales that became so popular in the world where I came from. Reality looks very different and rather ghastly. If it was up to me, I’d expose them all to some harsh environment, maybe the antarctic, without weapons and magical contraptions. This would teach them to cooperate. Too bad that no one would ever ask me…
Hold on, what was that? I felt a chuckle reverberating in my mind. Where had that come from?
“You are what we were waiting for,” that laughing voice in my mind spoke again. What?
My steed, that stupid dragon, suddenly rose into the air and landed between the two warring armies—as much as you could still see a separation line between them.
“Stop immediately, or you will be extinguished,” Cass, my gentle, docile, dragon bellowed.
The surviving disciples reloaded their weapons. The next group of charging unicorns changed their direction and came right towards us.
“You’ve been warned. Stop immediately or face the consequences.”
Shots seemed to bounce back from the dragon’s leathery scales. I ducked between two of his back ridges; ridges that had previously provided comfortable seating, but now moved in front of me to provide welcome cover.
The dragon coughed, and, with a soft bellow, two short, consecutive jets of fire incinerated the attackers.
While I was still hiding behind Cass’ spines, a heavy gust of wind arose out of the blue. The agitated air was followed by a group of ten, or more, dragons, many of which were twice the size of Cass. They must have teleported, if such a thing was at all possible. I couldn’t find another explanation for their sudden appearance.
“What have you done, Cass? Weren’t we agreed on watching and waiting?” the biggest of the dragons said.
“I’ve seen enough blood and gore. This has to stop. I found a mediator. There may be more where he came from. We’ll finally take charge of the realm, as is our right.”
An agitated humming followed Cass’ announcement. The dragons turned their heads and ten pairs of big, golden eyes stared at me.
Mediator? Did he mean me? My people? Back in my world? This couldn’t be… I felt sick to the core. The benevolent chuckling in my brain did nothing to appease me. How would you feel if your mind was invaded without invitation? There is no way I can block the intruder, nor do I know what he learned, or read, in my thoughts. I do not hesitate to call this mind-rape. If the dragons don’t understand the concept of privacy and dignity, attempts at communication will be futile. So, how can I possibly keep them away from wreaking havock in my world? Their idea of mediating isn’t exactly beneficial for either one of the conflicting parties. There is no way I’d let these monsters lose on our harmless, crazy, violent, world. We don’t need unicorns, nor otherworldly fanaticists, nor dragons. We have enough war-mongering morons of our own, thank you very much. But how can I keep them away if I can’t even keep them out of my thoughts?
“I’m not reading all of your thoughts, you’re overestimating your importance. Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
Yeah, right. We’re doomed. All of us.
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