Here’s the third part of the unicorn tale. 1350 words, fantasy. I expect this to run to five or six parts I think.
Please note that I managed to publish this with a whole twelve minutes to spare! Pretty good I think. One day I will will write faster. One day.
Ureal the Unicorn
Ureal could see in almost total darkness, this was a unicorn trait and required no magic to for him to maintain it. Which was a good job as he concentrated hard on his shadow spell so no one could see him. Even with his full concentration it wavered and not for the first time that day Ureal cursed his age and general decrepitude.
He couldn’t recall how many times he’d cursed his age that day, but knew he had, a lot. Most new memories tended not settle well. Some did and he could process them after a bit of thought. Most however memories flittered across his brain as lightly as a frightened mouse. They left little long-term impression.
Yet he still found he awoke sometimes, heart racing, sweating like a horse, as he recalled the details of battle fought 800 or more years ago. He remembered every detail; the color of the armor, the sounds of the battle, and worse of all, the stench. Most vividly he recalled the dead, his friends, family, fellow soldiers and the enemy. Funny thing about having an enemy, they rarely ever stay your enemy given enough time. It made for some awkward meetings as the years passed.
Ureal had long since decided that the best course of action then was to not have an enemy. A simple position to take but he couldn’t find a flaw in the argument and it was a stance that had served him well for over 300 years. If by well you meant trapped in a world that wasn’t his own and living in a storm drain. Ureal tried not to think of it too often.
He now picked his way through that drain, as quietly as he could. He ignored his itching leg as much as possible but knew that in a matter of minutes he’d lose control of it and it would stamp down, making a loud noise he couldn’t prevent. In front of him the two voices he’d previously heard had fallen silent for a few minutes. The sobbing hadn’t.
Ureal struggled when he attempted to interpret humans. Both the situations they constructed as a part of their sprawling society and the immediate emotions they seemed to be express. So much was utterly opaque to him. He tried to follow it, but it remained elusive. Most of it made no more sense than if a badger had taken up juggling, underground.
His homeless friend Sam had explained a lot of human interactions, including fighting over the last bottle of alcohol and how the owner of the syringe called the shots. Another thing he explained, and this had stuck in Ureal’s memory like the images of fountains of blood from long ago, was humans who were upset. Some one in front of him seemed very upset indeed.
Ureal avoided a small stream and selected what he hoped was the right branch in the tunnels but it was hard to tell as the sobbing echoed morosely off the concrete. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but he intended to find out. They were in his home, such as it was, after all. Was the human hurt, or were they fighting, he had no way of knowing – until the voices started again.
“I’m going to recheck the ropes.” Said a voice that belonged to some small annoying animal.
“Whatever.” A baritone answered. Practiced indifference dripped from the single word. Or would have if it could have been bothered enough.
“Wish he’d shut the fuck up.”
“Yeah, pretty annoying.” Believing that he’d found common ground, the weasel voice pressed his point.
“Hey, shit face, shut it.” The sobbing continued unabated. The voices had grown slightly louder and Ureal realized he was on the right path, just a few minutes away most likely.
“They good?” Asked the voice that clearly belonged to a 300 pound gorilla.
“Yeah. Ya know, I thought I told you to shut. The. Fuck. Up.” the words were punctuated by soft noises, the sobs turned to a softer gurgle.
“Hey!” the gorilla yelled, followed by another, slightly louder, sound of flesh striking flesh.
“Ah! What the fuck was that for!?”
“Mister Normal wants him in one fucking piece, you got that?”
“He’s in one piece inn-e?”
“Not if he dies from internal bleeding you dumb cunt. Don’t touch him again, you got it?”
“Fuck man, that hurt, yeah I got it. Don’t try that again,” silence for a dozen heartbeats. “Look, I don’t know, just don’t.” Said the weasel, trailing off into nothingness. Left unsaid, and yet surprisingly loud, was the other mans reply of nothing you can do about it, so shut up.
Ureal rounded a corner, constructed from pre-fabricated concrete slabs, and finally found the pair of men, a few feet away, curled into a fetal position in the dirt, lay the sobbing man. Or was he. Ureal rechecked his shadow spell, he found it stable so he carefully stepped around the corner so he could get a better look at the human on the floor.
They were young, he could tell that much, but exactly how young he couldn’t tell. Probably before the age of beards, perhaps, certainly around about that, maybe. He still thought of them as male, though he wasn’t sure why. After the inspection of the unhappy floor human Ureal turned his attention to the other two men.
They looked, as was often the case, caricatures of their voices. The baritone was an extreme example of their species, huge, muscled, and overly serious. The other man was only a touch shorter, but instead of the ramrod straight posture of the baritone the weasel man was hunched, hiding his height. As though his small frame took up too much space in the world, so he tried to make it smaller. Of the two, Ureal thought him the most dangerous of the two.
Ureal smelled something, and he automatically tried to fade into the wall as much as possible, a trick he wish he’d actually learned. He settled for pulling back around the corner as much as he could. Following on from the smell was a voice. A voice that had a physical presence, and like the smell it was laced with magic so strong that Ureal’s teeth, the few that were left, vibrated.
“Is everything as we expected?” The voice fizzled with portent. Baritone answered.
“Yes Mister Normal, he’s here.”
“Hmm,” mused the voice, out of the darkness Ureal caught his first look at the magical Mister Normal. He was tall, fantastically proportioned in an Italian suit. He looked so out of place in the storm drain that it took Ureal a moment to realize what was going on. The glamour was so well done. Layer upon layer, it was fine work that took a high level magic user. Ureal sank back further only to scrape himself along the concrete wall.
“He looks somewhat out of sorts. Why is that.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement that people would answer. That took a particular kind of mind.
“Ask Reynolds.” Answered the baritone helpfully. Reynolds blanched his weasel face and flinched.
“He was making a lot of noise, Mister Normal. So, I thought, I’d like, quieten him down some.”
“Was that…wise.” Reynolds went so pale he glowed like a full moon. Then he gagged, doubled over, and started throwing up spiders, huge oversized shiny black spiders. It was astounding and gross, Ureal felt his stomach turn but noticed that the spiders faded a few feet from the man. More magic and illusion. It was all casually thrown about by someone who really knew what they were doing. This was bad. Ureal decided that cowardice was the better part of valour and started backing away around the corner.
It was at that moment that his leg clopped down heavily and the sound rang around the tunnel. Mister Normal snapped a quick order in response.
“Vincent, Reynolds.” Ureal heard the men quickly approaching and wanted nothing more than being 500 years younger.
To republish please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.