Amber Hunter’s story of a trusting unicorn earned her the second ‘highly commended’ spot, and a copy of Roadkill / Siren Beat by Robert Shearman and Tansy Rayner Roberts. Find out more about Robert here, and Tansy here.
Here’s Amber’s story:
The Maiden and The Unicorn
Enola’s bronze skin glimmered with the sweat of exertion. She sank to her knees at the stream before her and began gulping water in between gasps for breath. She had been tracking the strange cloven-hoofed creature for hours and seemed no closer to him than when she started.
“I’ll only rest a moment,” she thought to herself as she removed her beaded moccasins and slipped her feet into the crisp stream.
Enola closed her eyes, squished the moss between her toes and drank in the sounds of the forest. Leaves rustled in the faint breeze and bees hummed a busy tune while they went about collecting their honey. Male birds crooned sweet nothings of nests and chicks to their female counterparts. Squirrels quarreled over the first green nuts to be gathered from the forest floor.
A faint nickering, unlike any sound Enola had heard before, startled her to attention. Instinct brought her to her feet, arrow nocked and bow drawn taught against her cheek. She gazed into faintly glowing amber eyes. Faintly glowing amber eyes gazed back.
* * *
The Unicorn, unable to withstand the allure of the Maiden’s scent any longer, approached Enola to offer her his horn. Too late, he realized that this particular Maiden was hungry.
* * *
Enola sucked her breath between clenched teeth. She’d heard the tales from the Elder’s of forest creatures offering themselves willingly, but in her short 15 years had never experienced such a thing herself. “What an honor I have been given”, she thought.
Enola placed her hand upon the Unicorn’s neck, feeling the life ebbing from his body as the light faded from his eyes. She whispered a prayer. “Thank you, Brother, for this sacrifice of your physical body which will provide sustenance for my tribe. Tonight we will sing and feast in your honor.”