Get ready for a fresh take on Unicorns. Well, not exactly fresh, he’s pretty old, but a different take at least.
Welcome to Story 10 – Ureal the Unicorn. A fantasy take on a dark comedy court drama. Here’s part one, some 912 words.
You’ll never look at unicorns in the same way again.
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S10 – Ureal the Unicorn
Ureal stood as still as he could, but his legs shook slightly every now and again his left hind leg would tap down onto the wooden floor of its own volition. Nothing he could do about that. He looked over at Sinhau, the representative of the Queen of Darkness. She was fuming, her powers barely contained despite an impressive force of will. Ureal had only ever met one of the inner court of the Fae before, now here he was, withers deep in them.
“You dare bring this into the court?” Sinhau hissed, gesturing at Ureal.
“This,” stated Glua walking forward, anticipation making her voice sound even more smug than normal, “is a witness.” The room erupted in bellows. A number of the lesser Fae, a middle English term they had since appropriated, lost control of their magic. It spilled forth and court controllers stepped in, sucking up the magic and ejecting those who could no longer contain themselves.
Glua stood on the floor of the temporary court, looking around at the key players, assessing their reactions. In turn she was scrutinized by rheumy eyes. Ureal stared at her, the Queen’s representative from the house of Summer. She was beautiful, indisputably, but Ureal had been around the block. A few times. He was old, slightly senile, definitely incontinent, and no longer a great representative of a unicorn stallion. He was approaching a thousand. Even unicorns get caught by time in the end.
So Ureal could see the real Glua behind the beauty. Hard sharp features, eyes as dark as a summer storm, her face a mask of control. Behind that was worry. It wasn’t him on trial, it was the courts. The biggest suspects were darkness and summer. This was simple logic, the crime had taken place in summer and in the dark.
It would be harder for the House of Winter to operate in the summer months, the season would reduce there power and influence. The same would be true for the House of Light operating in the dark. It is not impossible, but requires a much more powerful Fae to undertake the work in a negative condition. So it was prudent to look at the most obvious houses first.
The court stayed chaotic and noisy, and although no-one motioned or asked, one of the Fae Court knights stepped forward. He wore regalia rather than armour, but the sight was impressive enough that the noise faltered. Retaining the fragile balance between the houses, other knights stepped onto the court floor, as though fading from shadows, dreams or nightmares given flesh.
“Donkey,” Sinhau rasped into the growing silence, “what is your court?” Ureal was enjoying a lovely scratch of his hock – has to be some advantages in having a horn – when he realised the question was aimed at him. Self-consciously he stopped and turned until he found where Sinhau stood. It took a minute.
“Madam, I am a Unicorn.”
“Just answer the question!” Sinhau snapped.
“And yet I am no donkey, as you call me.”
“How is it I know you address me?” Ureal said. Sinhau’s eyes grew darker still, deep pits of darkness, yet motes danced within. Ureal had little to lose, even his life was nothing much anymore. However, even with bits of him not working, and other bits working of their own accord, he wanted to exist. His hind leg clopped down hard. He gave it a languid, reproachful look before continuing.
“I am Ureal, a unicorn of the free court.” The free court were Fae who belonged to no house, answered to no king or queen. They could be powerful creatures, or so weak that they would not be worth a house’s time. They could also be outcasts, or criminals, removed from the protection of the powerful houses. The free Fae were fair game for all.
“Had you a house?” Glua asked.
“Yes ma’am, long ago. I won freedom in the war.”
“Which?” Sinhau hissed.
“The war, madam.” He stressed the first word, so they could be clear which he meant. That war. The one that nearly ended the Fae. The human war. The house’s of the Fae disagreed what to do about humanity, a disagreement so potent that it sparked civil war among the houses. It decimated the Fae houses, then petered out. It was deemed pointless to continue. Einstein’s letter had been acted on, uranium-235 purified, and on July 16th 1945 Oppenheimer’s project was proven effective in the worse way.
The Fae were no longer the world’s masters. The houses could still wipe out all life on earth, but not quickly enough. The Fae could never threaten humanity as a whole without swift and total retribution. They still held the power of life and death on a small scale; hundreds could die at a whim. Humans were too numerous, too powerful. They had had to make peace.
They had feared the instant annihilation of the atom bomb. Within a matter of months humans had a ‘house’ among the Fae, UN representatives from various nations living together under one roof, protected by various agreements. The only house allowed religion, iron, and modern firearms.
That was many years back, though a blink for the more powerful Fae. Humans were why the court had been convened. A human had been killed by magic, a powerful human. Ureal had seen the killer. Kind of.
MJ Cook: Not really tried this kind of fantasy much but it was fun to delve into. With Story 10 underway I’ve managed to >catch up the deficit that was created due to my vacation and cold. I hope you are looking forward to finding out what Ureal knows …
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