The full moon caressed the black sky with shimmering silver light.
Aramon stretched out upon the grassy knoll staring upward, at
the stars. Tiny pinpoints of lightmillions of themfilled the
clear skies. A warm breeze caressed his bare chest.
What are you thinking? Jenna came up from behind him, her blue
skirts softly swirling around her bare feet and ankles.
Aramon lifted himself up, and leaned on one elbow. Her mere presence
warmed him. How lucky he felt to have the love of a woman as wonderful
as Jenna. He smiled up at her, remembering how they met on this
very hill only a year before. I was just thinking how connected
everything is. How anything is possible.
She shifted her skirts and sat beside him, hugging her knees to
her chest. In the silver light, he watched the moonlight caress
her smooth skin. How beautiful she was. With a soft sigh, she
smiled and tipped her head back, looking up at the brilliant night
sky above them. It is beautiful.
It is endless. He reached out and took her small, thin hand
into his, caressing the back of it. We should marry at night.
A soft giggle escaped her delicate lips. How would the priestess
see to read from the holy texts?
We need no holy texts. Just the stars and the moon
her recoil slightly, knowing she feared retribution from the Gods.
The night sky is the temple of the Gods, Jenna. They look down
on us, always watching over us. They know the love between us.
Her face softened. You and your astronomy. I only wish you would
not say such things. Our life together will be cursed.
Aramon pressed his eyes closed, wishing her childish superstitions
would somehow vanish. He knew they would not. Jenna grew up within
the temple. Her entire life was based on faith. He, however, as
an astronomer and mathematician, evaluated everything with logic.
His view of the gods differed greatly from those views taught
by the temple. He sometimes wondered if that difference alone
would keep them apart.
What do you think of now?
That if the Gods were angry they would have shown that anger
by now. They are not as unforgiving as you may think.
But Priestess Lorna says
He lifted a finger to her lips, silencing her. You cannot believe
everything Priestess Lorna tells you. She only fills your mind
with such nonsense because she is angry you are marrying me instead
of giving your life to serve in her temple.
Jennas lips contorted into a pout. That is untrue. What about
the unicorns of the Gods Holy Warriors? She did not lie about
them. I have seen them. They drink by the river beneath my window
Unicorns? Prophecies, and magical items. None of these things
exist. Realizing she was now angry with him, he tried to reason
with her. The staff of Alda was nothing more than an elaborate
back scratching device. Complete with rune symbols of the ancients.
He could not hide the smile covering his lips. That same staff
sat within the temple even now, enshrined in a niche in the main
hall, covered by clear glass. Shaking his head, he sat up and
crossed his legs in front of him.
Thats not true! she said in a hurt voice. I have seen the
unicorns! And the staff of Alda really is a magical artifact.
Come now, Jenna. Even the Sorcerer Garath, an authority on such
things, says there are no such creatures as unicorns. He personally
insists that the Staff of Alda holds no magical properties.
Maybe he does not believe in those things. But he still believes
He chuckled, amused by her matter-of-fact argument based on nothing
more than faith. He uses the guise of prophecy to give warriors
a sense that the things they do are guided by a higher power.
It gives them purpose and hope. It makes them want to work harder.
She lifted a wary eyebrow and ran her long, thin fingers through
her thick blond curls. Then you must see the unicorns for yourself.
Then you would believe.
He shrugged then narrowed his eyes. I suppose I would. But only
if I could ride one.
Even in the darkness, he saw her roll her eyes. Only the Holy
Warriors of the Gods can ride the unicorns.
Perhaps I am one and I do not know it. It could be prophecy.
At what time do the unicorns arrive at the stream for their nightly
She turned to him, startled. Around midnight, of course, she
said, as if he should have known.
He stood. With an outstretched arm, he helped her to her feet.
Then we shall go to the stream and wait for them.
They soon found themselves hidden amongst the trees lining the
stream, watching the area Jenna was sure the unicorns would come
Aramon looked skyward for the height of the moon. Midnight was
almost upon them. What color are they?
Yes. Are they white? Blue, perhaps?
Jenna gave him a coy smile. No. Theyre black.
He nodded, amused. Of course they are.
White unicorns are mere myths. The gods created only black unicorns.
Why is that? He found himself getting irritated, but each time
he looked at her a deep feeling of love overwhelmed him.
She crossed her arms over her chest for warmth against the oncoming
breeze. It was cooler here, near the water. After some thought,
she finally answered. Warriors need darkness in order to remain
Of course they do. He watched, in silence, as midnight came
and went. Still, no unicorns emerged.
Finally, Jenna yawned.
It does not look as though they will be showing themselves tonight.
They are probably just late.
Perhaps they were delayed after a long battle somewhere?
You do not have to believe if you choose not to. But I do. Sighing
deeply, she turned from him and started toward the temple. Are
Aramon shook his dark head of hair in defeat. I must get home,
and you should sleep. I will see you tomorrow.
She turned back to him. I still love you, even if you dont believe.
That same warm feeling crept over him again. As I love you. Always.
He stood there and watched until she disappeared into the temple.
As he turned to leave, he heard a horse snort, and felt warm breath
on the back of his neck. He whirled around. Before him stood two
black horses. Upon each horse's brow, a single horn jutted skyward.
A womans voice sang out from behind them. Perhaps you are a
warrior of the gods. Stepping between the unicorns and into full
view, Priestess Lorna emerged with a frown upon her lips. Her
stark white hair stood out against the black robes she wore.
Oh. I see. This is trickery. With one hand, Aramon reached out
and tugged at the nearest unicorns horn. The unicorn pulled away
and took two steps backward. What type of alchemical adhesive
did you use?
She laughed and shook her head. After smoothing imaginary wrinkles
from her black robes, she folded her hands in front of her. It
is no trick. Myself, and the other Gods, knew you would not be
an easy warrior to catch, Lord Aramon. You would have wasted your
life away staring at the stars. This was necessary. Now, you must
choose one. She motioned toward the unicorns.
He looked over each animal with a furrowed brow. Both unicorns,
black as coal, stood over seventeen hands, with strong legs and
graceful form. You did this so you could have Jenna. Didnt you?
You bring your horses here every night so she will see them from
her window. All so she will see me as a heathen and remain here,
imprisoned as a priestess in your temple. I cannot believe you
would stoop to such a lowly deception, Priestess Lorna.
Lorna said nothing. Instead, she pulled the cowl of her robes
up over her head and stepped back.
This is trickery, and I shall prove it. He stepped up to one
of the mares and, after a few failed attempts, finally hoisted
himself onto her tall back. This is a horse like any other, though
I must admit I do not know how you prepared or affixed their horns.
Lorna pulled something from her robes then, and handed it to him.
He took it, realizing immediately that he held the staff of Alda
in his hands. A wide grin, laden with sarcasm, covered his face.
And what am I to do with this?
You tell me, she said, her tone softening. She pulled down the
cowl hood of her robe then. Before him stood Jenna, with an equally
wide smile adorning her lips. You are the authority on back scratchers.
His smile faded into shock just as the Staff of Alda began glowing
a brilliant golden light that consumed him. When it finally dissipated,
he looked down on himself. Before, he stood clad in nothing more
than breeches. Now, he and the unicorn beneath him found themselves
adorned in black and silver battle garb.
Now go. The unicorn will take you to where you must be.
But what about you, Jenna?
I will always be with you. I will always love you.
Jennas words lifted to his ears, haunting, like the night songs
of owls. Suddenly, for the first time, he knew faith. The warm
feeling flooded his body. But this time, it did not slowly fade.
Instead, it stayed with him as he and the black unicorn, armed
with the Staff of Alda, journeyed onward into the moonlit night
beneath a sky full of stars.
Unicorn illustration by Dan C. Rinnert.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this story may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any informational storage or retrieval system without express written permission from the author.
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