by Janie Brunson
"There's no way we're going to escape," I said to the unicorn, "Would
you stop pacing already?" He stopped his agitated prancing and came
over to lie down next to me with a resigned sigh. I leaned against his
silky flank and wrapped my fingers in his cloudlike mane. Now I'm
really not the unicorn-hugging type, but we had been through a lot
tonight, and one or both of us might be executed today, so I figured I
might as well. Besides, he didn't seem to have any conception of the
idea of personal space.
"We could light some of this on fire and maybe burn a hole in the
wall," I suggested, kicking at the loose straw on the floor of the
stall where we were both imprisoned, "Do you have any matches?"
The unicorn sighed again and looked up at me with skeptical clear amber
My sigh echoed the unicorn's. This wasn't going the way I had intended.
Steal the unicorn, collect the gold, and leave the kingdom: that had
been the plan. Notice that being locked in a stable with said unicorn
had not been part of the three-step process. At least being locked in a
dungeon has some dignity to it, in a dark, tragic-hero kind of way.
Stables don't have quite the same sense of gloomy glory. It was just
another reminder that I was no one's hero, tragic or otherwise. I was
just an orphan from the streets, a criminal, a unicorn thief.
The troubling chain of events that eventually got me into this
situation began when Lord Traymark hired me to steal a unicorn from the
king's stables. He didn't tell me why exactly, but it wasn't hard to
figure out. To explain, I'll need to give a quick history lesson. I
didn't pay attention at all in Remedial Kingdom History back at the
orphanage school, but basically, there are four races in this kingdom:
humans, elves, dwarves and trolls. They all used to do their own thing
until some conquering hero named Jordan The Subjugator (human, of
course) showed up, united the four races into one kingdom against their
will, and proclaimed himself king over the whole mess. That's who I'm
named after, by the way. They weren't feeling too creative the morning
I was dumped on the orphanage doorstep, so they named me Jordan, the
most common name in the kingdom. Anyway, this whole kingdom is in a
constant state of undercover war, with the other three races trying to
get rid of the human king, who is currently Jordan the Subjugator's
Lord Traymark, who is one of the elf nobles, hired me to do the one
thing that would force the king to declare an open civil war: steal a
unicorn. Only the royal family has unicorns, and they're really proud
of it. There's something about unicorns that brings their riders power,
so the king doesn't want anyone else to get ahold of one. Don't ask me.
Like I said, never paid attention in school. I left that orphanage when
I was twelve and started making my own living as a thief in the
marketplaces and city squares. At first, I just stole to survive. It
turned out, though, that I was really good at it. Not trying to brag,
but within a couple years, people started asking me to steal stuff for
them, because I would do a better job than they would themselves. I got
some pretty high-profile jobs that way. I've stolen magic wands,
crystal balls, famous swords, and, once, a handful of dragon's gold.
I'd never stolen anything alive before, though. Lord Traymark promised
me gold if I did this job for him, more than I had ever hoped to have
in all my life. It was enough gold that I could actually get out of
this miserable kingdom and start a new life somewhere far away. I could
even retire from thieving!
I said yes, even though it was risky and I didn't trust Traymark as far
as I could throw him. He's about three times my weight, so that's
saying something. I've always been short and slim for my age.
The next step in the unicorn job was having my partner in crime,
Trista, check out the castle and give me an idea of what to expect.
Trista is this charming elf girl who always looks completely put
together and confident. No one ever questions her if she's spending
time around the king's castle, pretending to admire the unicorns. If I
did that, they'd lock me up within the first five minutes, with plenty
of curses about the kingdom's corrupted youth. At least it would be in
a proper dungeon.
Sneaking into the King's stables was almost insultingly easy. It was a
warm night, and the guards on the gate were sleeping, all wrapped in
their fancy cloaks and slumped against the wall. It was a simple thing
to climb over the gate, swim the moat, and run lightly along the path
Trista had described to get to the stables. The guard on the stable
door wasn't sleeping, but he was a dwarf, and they never know what's
going on right in front of their nose. I walked right past him. There
was an old ladder propped against the stable wall, and I climbed it,
quietly pried open the window at the top, and slithered through the
narrow opening to a soft landing in the hay loft. Everything was going
completely according to plan. I crept down to the stalls, lit my fairy
lamp, and started trying to decide which unicorn to steal.
I swept the light along the row of stalls slowly, marveling at what I
was seeing. They were amazing animals, truly. Their coats were in
vibrant colors, from flawless silver to warm tan to a rich, dark
chestnut. Their horns caught the dim light from my fairy lamp and shone
with their own inner pearly radiance.
I'm the last person to stand around appreciating beauty, especially
when I have a job to do, but I was dazzled. There was a big,
magnificent red one that I kept returning to, dazed with the desire to
take him with me. How much more respect would I get if I had a unicorn
like that by my side, if I could ride high on his back ... I shook my
head sharply to scatter the daydreams. What was my problem? I couldn't
afford to space out on the biggest job I had ever done. The red one
would likely be hard to control because of his size, not to mention
conspicuous, with that bright coat. I made myself walk past his stall.
Although, taking a second look at them all, I acknowledged that there
wasn't a single one which wouldn't be conspicuous. So I returned to the
red stallion. He was so amazing, and he posed such a challenge. If I
could steal him, I would be the undisputed best thief in the whole
kingdom. I just couldn't resist. My hand reached for the latch on the
stall door. I didn't notice it was trembling until I accidentally made
the latch clink loudly as I unfastened it. Damn! How had I let that
happen? The red stallion opened his eyes, stirring from sleep. Then he
threw up his head, looked directly at me, and let out a loud, powerful
whinny. My breath caught, and, for a second, I just froze. I'm usually
really good at thinking on my feet, pulling off narrow escapes and the
like, but, either because things had gone wrong so suddenly, or just
because I was stunned by the unicorns and the amount of gold that was
on the line, my mind went blank.
"What's going on?" called the dwarf guard from outside, "Someone in
there?" I heard keys jingle as he unlocked the door. I swore under my
breath, heart beginning to race. I was standing in plain view! I moved
rapidly away from the door as it opened, to the very back of the
stable. The last stall was shadowy and, thankfully, empty. I looked
down at the fairy lamp still shining in my hand and quickly
extinguished it, then vaulted over the stall door, not trusting myself
to handle the latch without screwing up again.
"Hello?" called the guard, moving down the row of stalls as the
unicorns all stirred restlessly, "Who's there?" He was carrying a light
of his own, though it was just an ordinary torch. Fairy lamps were
rare. I'd stolen mine from that troll merchant just last month, and he
was still trying to hunt it down. I crouched in the straw on the stall
floor, trembling with nerves. This was about as bad as I'd ever messed
up. If he decided to shine that light into this stall, I didn't know
what I would do. Something moved in the dark right next to me. I mean,
literally six inches from me, and it was something big. I managed to
keep from crying out, but I did gasp sharply and the dwarf heard it.
"Who's there?" he demanded, sounding more threatening this time and
rapidly coming closer. Dwarves were shorter than humans, but much
stockier and more muscular, and this one was armed with a club and,
probably, a knife hidden somewhere. My chances in hand-to-hand combat
were pathetic. Oh, God, how could I ever get out of this one? Caught in
the royal stables. There would be no mercy for a unicorn thief. I would
be killed, and probably very publicly and nastily. The creature beside
me moved again, and I felt it nudge my shoulder, its warm breath
puffing against my skin. I jerked away, heart thudding wildly. I had to
know what was in here with me! I lit my fairy lamp with shaky hands. It
flared up, its unique soft purplish glow lighting up my stall and
giving my hiding place away completely. My companion was a unicorn. Of
course. I was in a unicorn stable; I didn't know why, in my
uncharacteristic panic, I had had visions of, I don't know, an enormous
rat or something. And it was a very small unicorn, too. It blinked in
the light, staring up at me with curious, amber eyes, its pure-white
coat gleaming. It laid its nose on my shoulder and looked up calmly.
Like I said, no conception of personal space.
"Stay where you are!" came the guard's sharp command as he strode
toward me as fast as he could, "You are under arrest for trespassing in
the royal stables!"
Just a few more steps and he would be at the door to this stall. I drew
back my arm and threw the fairy lamp as hard as I could. It shattered
with an almost-musical tinkling. Tiny fairies and their magic, shining
dust scattered everywhere. The dwarf cried out in his own guttural
language as the bright dust flew in his eyes. His foot slipped in the
broken glass and he went down on one knee, losing his grip on the
torch, which tumbled end over end through the air before landing in a
nice heap of dry straw. Setting the royal stables on fire was the last
thing I wanted! But that's what happened. As I watched the straw go up
in flames with astonishing speed, all I could think was that it had
been a huge, stupid mistake to take this job. Who did I think I was?
Well, pride comes before a fall and all that. Or, in my case, it comes
before an inferno.
The dwarf wiped the fairy dust from his face, blinked several times as
his vision cleared, and then stared in horror at the spreading fire.
The piercing scream of a unicorn broke the silence, making both of us
jump. He turned from the blaze and looked straight at me.
"You!" he cried, "Unicorn thief!" I opened my mouth to say something
defensive, probably about how it was his own fault for being such a
terrible guard, but I coughed on the smoke that was beginning to fill
The unicorns were getting extremely agitated, and I didn't blame them.
Flames were licking up the side of the nearest stall. Honestly, why
would they make a stable almost entirely out of wood? It's like they're
asking for it to go up in flames. The dwarf and I traded one more
quick, hostile look as the cries of panicked animals started to rise to
a clamor. I saw his eyes darken with resolve as the dwarf made a snap
decision; he turned away from me and threw open the first stall. The
unicorn lunged out of the blazing wreckage and bolted for the open
The dwarf raced down the row, throwing open doors and trying not to get
trampled by desperate unicorns. I looked around at the fire. It was
leaping from one piece of dry wood to the next, moving even faster than
the dwarf's short legs.
The aisle between the stalls was a tunnel through walls of flame. Why
was I still standing here frozen? I kicked the stall door aside and
started running down the tunnel. My eyes watered in the bright,
flickering light and the crushing heat. Breathing was extremely
difficult. My longer strides got me past the dwarf in a moment and I
started throwing open stall doors also. I didn't even consider leaving
the animals to die in these flames in order to get myself out of there
faster. I steal things, but I don't hurt anyone.
I kept moving, and opening, and narrowly escaping plunging hooves and
Stray sparks seared my skin, my lungs were burning and straining and my
heart was pounding and I couldn't see— I somehow stumbled free of the
burning stables, gasping and coughing, my momentum carrying me blindly
forward until I tripped and fell to my hands and knees.
The dwarf guard came into blurry view beside me, frantically grinding
his flaming cloak into the dirt before collapsing next to me.
We sat there for a few seconds, glaring and getting our breath back so
we could start cursing at each other. Thinking about it later in my
prison stall, I suppose I can admit that he had just a little more
reason to be upset than I did, since I was the one who had attempted a
crime and made him drop the torch and all. Honestly, though, he had
screwed up on the job just as much as I had. Almost.
We had almost coughed all the smoke from our lungs when the sounds of
frantic shouts came from the castle. We shot another look at each
other, this time of mutual fear. I glanced around for the unicorns.
They seemed to have scattered to the winds, the last few rapidly
disappearing into the night in various directions. Except one. The
little white unicorn was standing a few feet away, watching me and the
dwarf curiously, as though wondering what we might do in this
situation. Speaking of, what exactly was I going to do in this
situation? I looked from the dwarf, who was looking increasingly
panicked as the voices came closer, to the calm unicorn. I had come
here to steal a unicorn and maybe I could still pull it off. Maybe I
could get the gold and be three kingdoms away before Lord Traymark
found out what a complete disaster this had been. Of course, that meant
I'd have to take the shortcut through the really dark, dangerous, and
universally avoided forest. Obviously. I'd worry about that later,
I stood up quickly and, in the same motion, moved to the unicorn.
The dwarf gave a strangled cry as I gracefully sprang onto the
unicorn's back. Okay, so maybe graceful isn't really the right word. It
was more like I slithered and flailed until I was in the right
position. I can move fast, but I don't necessarily have that much
muscle mass. The unicorn put up with it, though. He's small, but so am
I, so I knew I wouldn't be too heavy. I took a death grip on his mane,
held on tightly with my knees and tried to nudge the unicorn in roughly
the right direction. The dwarf was staring at me with hugely wide eyes,
seemingly unable to make himself do anything to stop me.
"What's your problem?" I said to him over my shoulder, and then the
unicorn suddenly broke into a gallop and we were speeding straight for
the dark, midnight woods.
I held on bravely as the unicorn splashed through the moat, jumped the
really high castle wall, tore across the open fields and then plunged
into the completely dark and tangled trees. I was really brave,
honestly. I only screamed a few times. Okay, I screamed mostly the
whole time. But I miraculously managed not to fall off until we made it
into the forest. Then the ground was really uneven, and a sudden steep
slope sent me flying through the air at an impressive height. I
crash-landed really painfully on my back in a bush. I lay there with my
mouth open, gasping, trying to get breathing to work again.
The unicorn came over and nudged me gently with his nose. I coughed and
pushed him weakly away, then tried sitting up. It took a few minutes,
but I was able to get to my feet and check my injuries. Countless
scratches, small burns and large bruises. Plenty of pain, but I was no
stranger to pain, having spent a long time handling life on the streets
and even, occasionally, in the wilderness. This forest, though, was a
whole new level of wilderness. Let me explain really fast that all that
enchanted forest stuff is overrated. It's not that this forest is more
magical than the rest of the kingdom; it's just that it remains untamed
and largely undiscovered. Not everyone avoids it; people go hunting
there and explorers and researchers alike have poked around. It's just
that, much like a muddy swamp full of alligators, decent people
wouldn't wander into it for a Sunday stroll. Get what I'm saying?
I laid my hand on the unicorn's neck and informed him, "That's the last
time I ride. We are going to walk, very slowly and carefully, in this
direction." Luckily my trusty smashproof compass (stolen from an
explorer on the borders of this very forest and kindly replaced with a
much cheaper one) had survived this whole mess way better than I had,
and I knew generally which direction I had to go to end up at Lord
Traymark's estate. I started walking, keeping a firm hold on the
unicorn's mane, and he followed along calmly. Wow, I thought to myself,
who knew unicorns were so easy to handle? If only I hadn't completely
ruined everything, stealing one would have been the simplest job ever.
I kept waling and walking on narrow paths, wading through underbrush,
staying alert for any sounds in the night that were more suspicious
than usual. That part's boring, so we'll just get to the troll attack.
Like I said, I was paying attention to my surroundings, so when I heard
a rustle in the brush, I turned sharply, catching a glimpse of a vague,
large, humanoid shape in the thick shadows. Another sound came from the
opposite direction. There were figures all around me, moving silently
through the woods, tall, broad, and walking upright. There was only one
species that matched that description: trolls. By far the least
civilized of the races, a lot of the troll citizens of the kingdom keep
to themselves in their forest tribes, and most of these "forest trolls"
don't even speak The King's Jargon, which is our common language. I
turned my head frantically, trying to keep them all in sight, but that
was, of course, impossible. They were in their element, and they had me
surrounded. Realizing that I had seen them, and also that I had no
weapon and wasn't really likely to pose a threat, they dropped their
cover somewhat and started conversing in their own language. The troll
tongue sounds like someone trying to spit out something nasty; lots of
hisses and short, sharp consonants. It wasn't very relaxing to listen
to, especially since I could tell by their gestures that they were
talking about me. I took a step forward, hoping that maybe they would
let me and the unicorn through, but one troll actually drew a heavy
sword and held it across my path. I stepped back quickly. My good luck
seemed to have run out tonight in a spectacular way.
"Please," I tried, "I'm just passing through. I don't want to cause
My plea was greeted with a lot of hisses and gargles. I noticed that
they were staring and pointing at the unicorn, who was standing calmly
beside me. He nudged me gently, trying to get me to pay attention to
him, I guess. I stroked his velvety nose, taking some comfort from his
warm, friendly presence, even as I knew he'd be zero help in a fight.
I looked around again at the group of huge and heavily-armed trolls. A
dozen, at least. With my wonderful talent for strategizing, I decided
that, given the odds, diplomacy would probably be the best tactic.
"Do any of you speak The King's Jargon?" I asked, trying to make my
voice sound steady and strong. Someone pushed through the crowd,
snapping at everyone until they shuffled out of her way. Yes, it was a
female troll. Yet another fun fact about trolls: they have a
"I speak your Jargon, human," she said, with a rough accent as she came
to stand in front of me, "We want your unicorn."
I took a nervous breath.
"Well, I would, but he's not mine, see, and I'm supposed to deliver him
to someone else. It wouldn't be good for me if I didn't."
"It will be worse for you if you do not give him to us," the troll
matriarch threatened, and a dozen blades grated against sheaths as they
all drew weapons. My throat became so dry at the sight of all those
sharp edges that I could barely speak. They were truly, honestly
willing to kill me. I looked at the unicorn, who moved closer, pressing
"There are a lot of unicorns roaming around," I said, trying
unsuccessfully to sound like I wasn't terrified, "They all escaped. I'm
sure it wouldn't be that hard to find one. Please, I really need this
The trolls stared at me for a moment, then the female leader turned to
the group and asked a brief question. She got some kind of resounding
response from the crowd. She turned back to me with a glint of hatred
in her dark eyes, which I could see even through the thick, tangled mop
of her hair. "You are a liar!" she snarled, "No unicorns would ever
escape! The king would not allow it!"
Another troll handed her a sword and she raised it.
"It was an accident!" I cried, stumbling backwards until 'i felt
another troll nudge me in the back, trapping me in their circle.
"I swear, they all escaped!"
"Liar!" cried the leader, positioning her sword so that it aimed
directly at my chest.
"We do not know how you got this single unicorn, but it does not
matter! You have brought him to us and we will use his powers to free
ourselves from the cursed human king!"
I was about to say that they could have the unicorn, they could have
whatever they wanted as long as they didn't stab me, but the troll
queen continued before I could babble any of that.
"We do not need you. You will cause trouble. So I will kill you."
I looked up into her face and knew that she meant it, and I went numb
with terror. My knees buckled and I felt like throwing up. I couldn't
look at the sword. The troll queen snapped a command in both languages:
"Hold him." Someone yanked me up and locked me in a grip that would
have made struggling impossible, if I had had the strength or
self-control to struggle. I could barely organize things enough to open
my mouth in order to beg for my life, to promise anything, to scream.
But she didn't give me a chance. I suppose she just wanted to get it
done as quickly as possible. I saw her quick, smooth movement in the
forest's darkness. And then the troll's sword plunged through my chest.
I can't say it was exactly painful, because I'm sure my body was in
complete and total denial. It felt horrible, though. I went icy cold,
and there was a sensation of crushing pressure in my whole upper body.
The queen snapped something and the troll holding me just let me slide
to the ground. Then, he yanked the sword out of my chest. At least,
that's what I assume happened, because at that point, I lost
consciousness from extreme agony. For a moment, I was in thoughtless
oblivion, and then I felt something like a nudge against my mind. In my
dying moments, I was brought back to some form of consciousness by a
vivid mental picture of a unicorn. The white unicorn I had stolen.
Feeling weightless, I blinked as a scene coalesced around me. Lots of
trees. All the trolls standing around, having what looked like a heated
conversation. And, lying off to the side, abandoned, bloody and still
as death, was me. The unicorn alone was close to my broken body,
standing over me. I felt the gentle mental interruption again, then a
stream of concepts. Not so much words as ideas. An explanation, and a
question. It translated to something like this: Jordan? It's me. You
don't look very well. I thought maybe I should help you. Is that okay?
Yes, I responded mentally, watching the blood run from my ruined body,
Oh, okay then.
The unicorn stepped closer, lowered his head, and inserted the tip of
his pearly horn into the horrible wound in my chest. For a moment, both
my body and the unicorn were encased in light, and then I drew a deep,
shuddering breath. The trolls were shouting and pointing, some of them
even waved swords, but I had no reason to be afraid anymore. I stood
up, feeling strong and fantastically healthy. But, more than that, I
was confident, and I understood now exactly why everyone wanted the
unicorns for themselves. I knew why the king had kept them locked up,
and why Traymark and the trolls wanted one.
"You can't hurt me," I said to the troll queen, who was staring with
her jaw hanging open, "He chose me. He'll save me, every time. Healing:
that's the unicorns' power. And that's why no one has been able to
overthrow the king."
Wordlessly, the trolls shuffled aside to form a path through their
"Go, unicorn thief," whispered the troll queen, "The unicorn has chosen
you. No other can command him now. Go. Please."
I could have walked, but I felt like riding a unicorn away from the
people who had just essentially killed me was more dignified.
"Give me a ride?" I said softly to my unicorn. He crouched immediately,
and I slid onto his back and rode away from the trolls, all of them
staring after me in wonder and even fear.
We broke out of the forest before I could think about what to do next.
I wasn't sure how long I'd been riding through the dark trees; I had
been in a kind of trance, trying to process my near-death experience,
and the fact that I was now almost indestructible, and wondering how
and why all of this could have happened to me, of all people. Before I
knew it, Lord Traymark's mansion was looming before me, and the sun was
I urged the unicorn onto the well-tended grounds of the estate,
intending to stop for a moment and think of the best way to approach
Traymark. While I knew that I could never give this unicorn to anyone
else, some ridiculous part of me thought that maybe I could reach some
deal with Traymark. Maybe we could work together to use the unicorn
against the king, and maybe I could still have a portion of the gold I
had been promised.
But these hopes were crushed before I even took time to think about it,
because Lord Traymark and a half-dozen armored guards were waiting for
"Unicorn thief!" Traymark cried, striding toward me with the fluid
grace that marked the movements of the elves, "You have destroyed
everything! Completely, and irreversibly!"
How had he found out so quickly?
"What do you mean?" I asked, "I stole a unicorn?” I knew the innocent
act wouldn't work on him, but it did get him to explain himself, which
was its only purpose.
"You somehow let all the unicorns escape! Now every commoner in this
cursed kingdom can stumble across a unicorn and be chosen!"
I frowned thoughtfully, despite myself, and asked, "And that's not a
"No!" snarled Traymark, his face becoming pale and tight with deadly
anger, "because the healing powers were only supposed to go to me. I
was supposed to lead the rebellion, not some worthless peasant."
I almost commented that no one would appreciate a revolutionary leader
with an attitude like that, but, probably luckily for me, that was when
Traymark ordered his guards to drag me and my unicorn to the stable and
lock us up. I was weary and didn't see a good reason to struggle, so I
didn't make it too difficult for them. Lord Traymark glowered at me
hatefully through the bars which had been affixed to the stall door.
"Are you going to kill me, Traymark?" I asked quietly, not even
bothering to use his title of respect, "because someone already tried
I lifted my shirt to show my chest where there was a small, faintly
Traymark's large eyes widened. He hadn't realized, apparently, that the
unicorn had healed me. The implications of this shook his confidence
somewhat, but he quickly reapplied his vicious scowl.
"There are ways, thief. How would your unicorn save you, for example,
if he wasn't there?"
With that, he turned and glided away, gesturing for his guards to
One of them lingered to whisper through the bars, "A unicorn chose my
dying son and healed him from his illness. It was a miracle! You are a
true hero, unicorn thief!" Tears glistened in his eyes as he hurried
after his lord. And that's how I ended up locked in a stable with a
I was tired, but after the night I'd had I couldn't sleep, so I spent
the next couple hours going over everything that had happened. I felt
almost like a different person, and not just because I had almost died
and been healed by magic. I had managed to steal a unicorn, the
greatest feat of thievery I had ever accomplished, but I felt no pride
in it. I also felt no shame in the fact that I had failed in almost
every other way: setting the stables on fire, literally getting myself
killed, and then getting imprisoned by my employer. I wasn't even too
upset about not getting my promised reward.
None of these things seemed important anymore. I still wanted the same
thing I always had, though, essentially. I wanted to leave this kingdom
and go somewhere I could live in peace. It was just that, now, the
unicorn would come with me.
I could hear important things happening outside, the roar of angry
crowds of people, the clanking and ringing of weapons, and, above it
all, the whinnying of unicorns. I had caused it all, and yet it felt
like something or someone more important than me had driven these
things to occur.
The bars on my door rattled, jolting me out of my detached reverie. I
jumped up, laying a protective hand on my unicorn.
"Jordan!" whispered a familiar voice, "Hold on, I have the key." The
door swung open after a moment and I looked into Trista's large, dark
I don't think I mentioned the fact that my partner is Trista Traymark,
Lord Traymark's eldest daughter. I wish I could explain her reasons for
participating in the criminal network, but she's never made them clear
to me. She just says her noble birth is too confining. I've learned not
to ask questions.
"I was beginning to wonder if you were going to show up," I said,
grinning at her in thanks.
"The people are asking who they can thank for the release of the
unicorns," she said as I stepped out of the stall.
"No one needs to thank me," I replied, meeting her eyes, "I really
can't take credit for it."
"Jordan," she said, catching my arm as I was about to lead my unicorn
to the door and freedom, "I don't think you understand. The people are
already calling you a hero and a savior. They would follow you without
question. They would even make you their king."
I stopped and stared at her blankly. A king? Me?
"But that doesn't make sense," I tried to protest.
"It makes perfect sense," she said firmly, "They will call you Jordan
The Liberator, the thief who stole an entire kingdom. You can have the
respect and the power you have always wanted."
That shook me out of my daze. I met her gleaming eyes. She was very
beautiful, standing there looking at me in the half-light of early
morning that shone through the cracks in the stable walls.
"I don't want that," I said softly, "I don't need that. I just want
something simple and honest."
"But the people—“ she began.
"They seem to be doing fine on their own," I said with a slight smile,
hearing the crowds in the distance.
"Someone else can be king, someone better suited to it. Or the four
races can each have their own kings. I'm not the one who will make
"Are you sure?" she asked.
She lowered her eyes in disappointment.
"I think you would have made a good king, Jordan," she whispered.
"Thanks," I smiled, "but I don't want to take the chance."
I hugged her quickly, then led my unicorn out of the stables and rode
away. The kingdom was in uproar, and no one noticed me as I passed
through. They were all too wrapped up in their rebellion, and besides,
a lot of people had unicorns now, so I wasn't that unusual.
I wondered if they would mention me to their children in Remedial
Kingdom History, when all of this was over. If they did, I would be
known only as the nameless, mysterious unicorn thief who disappeared
into the morning mist.
© 2017 Janie Brunson
Bio: Janie Brunson is a law student who writes speculative
fiction in all the spare time she doesn't have. Her favorite things
include chocolate and Broadway musicals. Her work has appeared in 365
Tomorrows, Every Day Fiction, and Bards and Sages Quarterly.
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