Chapter 7: The Unicorn

The Unicorn sat as a fox, watching the Dragon change forms, looking out over the trees. Sniffing at the air she smelled a strange bitter odor. A curl of black smoke rose above the trees. Nose twitching the Unicorn looked out over the trees, coming to her feet. She looked back over her shoulder at the Dragon, first a sparrow, then a hawk, soaring around the clearing. Then a fox then a hare, he was having a lot of fun. The smoke scent drifted through the trees and the Unicorn couldn't wait anymore. Her forest was protected from forest fires, something was wrong. 

Leaving the Dragon to his fun, the Unicorn bounded through the trees, leaping over bushes and underbrush as fast as she could go. Flying through the forest in her fox form she made it to the source of the smoke in very little time. 

A small stream wound its way through the clearing, beside it sat a small circle of stones, most likely taken from the stream. Within the circle was fire, it was a strange sort of fire, controlled and only eating what it was fed instead of devouring the entire forest. She felt the power though and it’s insatiable hunger. Around the fire, feeding it twigs and leaves from the ground were the Men creatures. These didn’t have shining shells like the Hunt, instead a soft fur covering was their skin. Brown and green, they looked more at home in the forest and blended with their surroundings. They had think fur on their faces and heads, different for each. 

The Unicorn slipped into the clearing, staying low to the ground, nosing into the strange bundles that lay on the ground beside each of the Men. 

“Hey look at that!” One cried out, a young one, with light brown hair thinly covering his face. 

“Hush you!” said another, and older one with think black hair covering his features. “You don’t want to scare it off or nothin’ do you?” 

Suddenly the Unicorn was swept up into a rough sack, she scrabbled at the cloth with her claws but couldn’t break through. 

“I’ve never seen a snow fox this far south before!” The young Man said. 

“This one’ll make a fine present for m’lady.” The elder peered at the Unicorn. “Help pay off some of that debt that we owe her highness.” 

“That you owe Mitchel.” The one who’d caught her, also older than the young one, by the sound of his voice, the Unicorn couldn’t see him from the bottom of the bag. 

“Never you mind, Harper. It’ll help us all!” Dark Hair said, taking the bag and tying a knot in the top of it. The Unicorn was sealed in tight. 

“Put out that fire, if we head for the castle now we’ll get there before dark!” 

The Unicorn heard shuffling as the Men gathered their bundles and splashed across the steam. The Unicorn thumped against the back of the Man carrying her. 

“The wind’s picking up, let’s get going before a storm gets in.”

The wind gusted through the trees and the Unicorn felt the first stings of embers from the un-quenched fire alighting on the  always-new spring leaves. Before long it had spread and the Unicorn cried out as she felt the pain of the fire ripping through her forest, tearing it’s way through the heart of the trees. As she was pulled further along she felt the magic of her forest weakening, eventually snapping from her like a vine that had been pulled too tightly. She couldn’t stop the blaze, her magic had weakened too much. She knew that after the blaze was through her forest wouldn’t be the same. 

Weakened by the draining magic and the fire, the Unicorn fell unconscious within her sack, leaving the wood and it’s inhabitants to fend for themselves. 

At least one of them was a Dragon.

The End

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