|A Unicorn's Breakfast (youngsters:fairy tales, 2785 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Jan 11 2007||Views/Reads: 5388/2180||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Have you ever wondered what unicorns have for breakfast? No? Well, I have to admit that I haven't either, until now...|
Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story he thrashed about from side to side, kicking at the walls of the pit with his cloven hooves and rearing up onto his hind legs. Earlier he had been licking the early morning dew from the blades of grass in a woodland glade, just as all unicorns do. Dew is just moisture from the air that condenses on the grass as the air cools overnight, and is a source of liquid refreshment for many creatures. But to unicorns the dew is most important, as it is this that gives them their height and pony-like features, and their distinctive spiralling horn, and without the dew they would revert back to their ancestry and become goats once more. The Unicorn's name was Aruncus and he had strayed far to the west of his usual grazing lands. But the woodland he had found himself in was pleasant enough and the dew in the glades was the best he had ever tasted. But he had stayed there too long for his own good; for he had fallen into an animal trap: a deep pit dug by men and covered with branches of wood and disguised with fresh-cut turf. And though Aruncus had the sense to stay quiet and not draw the attention of whoever had made this ghastly trap, he clawed and kicked at its walls and vowed vengeance on the men responsible. Soon Aruncus grew tired and, with his chest heaving and his white coat covered with mud and leaves, he collapsed to the floor of the pit and lay there panting. 'What you are doing down there?' said a strange, child-like voice. 'You fall in hole?' Startled, Aruncus looked up to the gap in the branches and turf that he had fallen through and saw a strange sight: a lizard-like creature with sharp teeth and claws was perched on the edge of the hole and looking down at him. 'What is it to you?' replied Aruncus angrily. He was in no mood for a gloating lizard, or whatever it was. He got back up onto all fours and peered up at the strange creature. 'Why don't you help me get out of here instead of asking stupid questions?' 'What stupi-did mean?' asked the creature. 'It obviously means what you are!' replied the unicorn. 'I not a stupi-did,' said the creature. 'Well what are you then?' asked the unicorn. 'Do you have a name?' 'My name Squill,' replied the creature, 'and I a biloba.' 'A biloba?' said the unicorn. 'Never heard of one.' Aruncus settled back down on the floor of the pit again before looking back up at Squill. 'And stupid isn't a creature, it means not very clever.' 'Squill very clever,' said Squill. 'Zoola say.' 'Zoola?' said the unicorn. 'Who or what is a zoola?' 'Zoola friend,' replied Squill. 'Zoola my friend.' 'And is she a stupid biloba, too?' asked Aruncus. 'No, she not stupi-did. She very clever,' replied Squill. 'Not like you.' 'What do you mean?' asked Aruncus as he got back onto all fours. He was tiring of the conversation and beginning to get angry again. 'You fall in hole. That very stupi-did.' And with that, Squill turned and scurried away, dislodging a square of turf. 'No! Wait!' Aruncus stepped back as the turf fell and then, as anger overtook him again, he reared up onto his hind legs once more and tried to kick at the remaining turf and branches. But they were just out of his reach and soon he grew tired again and settled back on the floor of the pit, wishing he had not lost his temper with the biloba creature, and wondering how long it would be before men came to kill or capture him. *** 'Perhaps another day, Squill,' said Luzula. While anxiously looking for her pet, she had already walked further than she had planned, eventually finding him at the edge of a woodland glade. 'But Zoola must come!' exclaimed Squill. 'See not-very-clever stupi-did with jagge-did sticking out of head. It fall in big hole!' He turned and hurried away across the glade and, reluctantly, Luzula followed him, soon reaching the place where, obviously, some kind of animal trap had been dug. 'Be careful, Squill. Don't go too close to the edge.' As Luzula cautiously stepped to the edge of the pit and looked down into it, she was surprised to find a unicorn gazing up at her. 'See,' said Squill. 'Stupi-did fall in hole.' 'He's a unicorn,' Luzula explained, 'and he's fallen into an animal trap.' Aruncus's anger had turned back to fear, especially with the arrival Luzula, for though he knew she was just a child, he also knew that wherever there were children, there were men. 'Don't be afraid,' said Luzula. 'We mean you no harm. What is your name?' 'Aruncus,' replied the unicorn, feeling more hopeful. 'Can you help me to get out of here?' Luzula examined the animal trap. It was deeply dug, and from the remaining branches and turf, she could see that it had been well constructed and cunningly disguised. Nearby, a mound of earth from the pit was disguised with more leafy branches of wood. 'Keep out of the way, Squill,' she said, then cautiously she began to remove some of the turf and one of the smaller branches. 'Get away from there!' shouted a male voice, and Luzula and Squill looked up to see two men emerging from the woods and running towards them. 'They come, help?' asked Squill. 'No, I don't think so,' Luzula answered. The nearest of the men was carrying a longbow and had a quiver full of arrows attached to his belt, and as the man reached for one of the arrows, Luzula stepped in front of Squill, protectively. 'What have you got there?' the man asked as he fitted the arrow to the string of the bow and came closer. 'He's my pet,' replied Luzula, looking from one to the other of the two men and recognising neither of them. Though as the second one approached, she could see that he was just a boy, though a very tall one. 'Doesn't look like a pet, to me,' said the man. 'Looks more like it would make a very tasty meal.' 'Hide, Squill!' said Luzula. 'Hide now!' Biloba's have the ability to change their colour to match their surroundings, and Luzula was hoping that Squill would have the sense to do that right now. As the man walked around her, taking aim with his bow, Squill turned and ran towards the mound of earth. But before he had gone more than a few paces, he vanished. 'Where did it go?' said the man, incredulously. The boy began to laugh. 'It disappeared!' he exclaimed. 'It just disappeared!' 'You be quiet!' The man glared at the boy and then turned back to face Luzula. 'How did it do that? You're not a witch, are you?' 'Yes,' Luzula replied, with complete honesty. She was not in the habit of broadcasting the fact, but she hoped that it might frighten the two intruders away. But it was soon obvious that the man didn't believe her. 'If you know what's good for you, you'll get off home,' he said as he walked over to the animal trap and looked into it. 'Well, look what we've got in our trap: a unicorn! Now he'll make a few tasty meals.' The man had put his arrow back into the quiver, but he reached for another one while, in the pit, Aruncus became frantic with fear and reared and kicked at the air with his forelegs. 'Are you still here?' With the arrow fitted to the bowstring, the man had turned back towards Luzula who, oddly, had reached into her satchel and taken out a book. 'I told you to go home,' said the man, threateningly. But just at that moment, what the man at first thought must be a large bird, came swooping down from the sky and snapped at his left ear. 'What was that?' he exclaimed, now pointing his arrow towards the sky. But whatever it was had vanished. 'It was that creature!' replied the boy, laughing again. Squill had turned sky-blue as soon as he had taken to the air, and the boy had caught a glimpse of him as he collided with the man's head. 'This is your doing!' the man accused Luzula as he strode towards her. But Luzula, looking up from a page of the spell-book she had taken from her satchel, stood her ground and spoke a few words in a language that the man did not understand. And yet, it had the strangest effect on him: he dropped his bow and arrow and fell to his knees and then flat onto his belly at Luzula's feet. 'Your wish is my command, your majesty,' said the man. 'Stay where you are and be quiet,' ordered Luzula in a regal manner. She walked around the man; first to the edge of the pit where she spoke reassuringly to the unicorn until he became calm, and then towards the boy, who was dumbstruck. Not because of any magic spell, but because he had never seen the man so humbled, let alone, by a young girl. 'What is your name?' Luzula asked the boy as she looked up into his eyes. 'Dryas, miss. I mean, your majesty,' replied the boy, hesitantly finding his voice. 'Is he your kin?' Luzula asked, gesturing to the prostrate man. 'Him, miss? Your majesty, I mean. No, he's not my kin. At least, I think he's not. I've been with him a long time; but if I try to run away, he beats me.' 'I see,' said Luzula, feeling sorry for the boy. 'If I help you to run away, will you do something for me first?' 'Yes, your majesty,' Dryas replied. 'Good,' said Luzula. 'Then you can do two things for me: you can stop calling me your majesty and you can go and find me a spade, like the one used to dig this animal trap.' 'That's easy,' said the boy and, with a big smile on his face, he ran off to fetch a spade. Luzula called to Squill and with a magic all of his own, he reappeared in the sky above her and glided gently down and landed beside the pit. 'What's a unica-norn?' he asked as he looked down at Aruncus who, affected by Luzula's calming words, had fallen asleep. 'A unicorn is just a goat,' replied the young witch. 'But an enchanted one.' And then after a moment's thought she began to recite a poem. A baby goat was heard to say "I'd like to be a horse one day" Said a rabbit who was hopping by "Ah yes, my dear, and pigs might fly" A nanny goat was heard to say "I wish my beard would go away" Said a donkey who was standing near "But your wish will not come true, I fear" A billy goat was heard to wish For a sword that he could thrust and swish Said an eagle flying overhead "You must make do with horns, instead" But a wizard who had heard each wish Just waved his wand and then said this "I'll grant your wishes, but if I do You must forever drink the morning dew" Soon Dryas returned with a spade and Luzula told him he could go, but he decided to stay and see what would happen next. 'On you feet!' Luzula addressed the man with her queen-like voice. 'And tell me your name!' 'Dictamnus, your majesty,' said the man as he got to his feet. 'Your wish is my command, your majesty.' 'I want you to start digging, Dictamnus,' said Luzula, pointing to the end of the animal trap and out in a straight line. 'I want you to dig a ditch wide enough for the unicorn to make his way out of your pit, and when he is free, I want you to fill it in. Do you understand?' 'Yes, your majesty,' replied Dictamnus as he took the spade and began to dig, with Dryas watching and grinning from ear to ear. And it took the man until the sun was at its highest to finish digging a ditch that sloped steadily down into the pit so that the unicorn could make his way out. And it took him the rest of the day, and until well after dark, to fill in both the ditch and the animal trap. But long before then Luzula, Squill and Dryas had gone - as had Aruncus the unicorn. Dictamnus stood in the light of Astrantia's pale pink moon and scratched his head. He had blisters on his hands and a vague memory of meeting a beautiful young queen, and of being ordered to give up trapping and hunting and to become a farmer. And that is exactly what he did. *** So what do you have for breakfast? Not slugs, I hope. Tweet
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