The Unicorn

The can’t put a horse in there, it’s too small – how can they do that? It’s not a horse, it’s a unicorn. See, it has a certain shimmer, and even with downcast, hurt eyes it is unique. They took his horn, sold it years ago to make into exotic recipes. It’ll heal anything, a unicorns horn will. It hurts though, it screams as you tear it, like flesh. It doesn’t bleed, it is ivory, but the unicorn feels every single fragment of his magical nature being ripped from him. So rare because we killed them, all of them. He is named Dionysus, conscious and feeling as a human, but they took his tongue as well. Can’t frighten the punters. Wood-god caged, revelry of a bloody sort. Cruel men with cruel hands forgot him, left him. We should rescue him? We can’t, what would we do? They’d know. We are complicit, as collaborators in this atrocity.

He’s old now, Dionysus, and he misses his family. Unicorns are solitary, not by choice but by necessity. They are hunted, always hunted, and the forests of their youth are dying. It’s been many years since they took him, scarred him and left him to die. He thinks of his mother, Ariadne, he never knew his sister, she was taken as a foal, possibly tamed and given to some rich businessman as a muted slave. Possibly. His mother didn’t talk of her much, except on long cold nights, when sadness permeated the chill air. His mother was a proud creature, haughty yet so sad. It added to her majesty though, her sadness was that of Helen, ethereal. She’s dead, though they never took her – cornered and whimpering as they had taken him. When the open forest took her in, he cried for weeks. The heart of the forest took her, gracefully. Her heart had been broken long before and she faded to some strange illness, leaving him alone.

We can’t help, he’s faded, he could just be a broken grey, his head hangs but somewhere he rushes across grassland, faster and more graceful than anything. They cut his horn, they broke him, but inside there is still some power. One day he will fight them, or maybe he will fade, but either way he’ll stride into the heart of the forest, and she’ll be there waiting.

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