Chapter the Ninth
In the Hallowed Hills of the unicorns panic had set in.
"The Prince's son! He's gone!"
"The last I saw of him, he was being chased by wolves." And in the midst of the panic and the flurry of sound, one lone voice trumpeted angrily.
"Where is my son! Set upon by wolves you say? Did no one think to aid him? He is the heir and not one of you thought to defend him! No, you scattered like frightened sheep before... wolves!"
The gathering of unicorns fell silent as their prince surged up onto the rise. He wasn't nearly as large as Korr the Mad King had been, no unicorn had ever grown to that size since his death. He was, in fact, smaller than most unicorns, but what he lacked in size he made up for with his strong voice and cool head in battles, not that there had been any on a large scale for a while but for the recent wolf attacks. The first impression you got from looking at him was blue. He was as blue as the sky on a sunny day and his mane and tail, hooves and horn were as white as clouds. His eyes were also a clear white, with no pupils or irises. Prince Damer son of King Dhattar was blind. But even as he swung his head around to "look' at the unicorns gathered around him, many dropped their gaze to look at their hooves, as meek as if the princes had blazing eyes of fire that could burn holes in them. After a long pause, he spoke. "Teko."
A handsome palomino raised his head, "Yes sire?"
"Gather some warriors to meet me here at dawn tomorrow."
"It shall be done my prince." With one last look at his herd, the Prince slowly walked down the rise, head hanging almost to the ground. The unicorns around him stared sadly after his form retreating into the dusk.
In the canyon the wind sang a mournful tune over the bodies of the dead wolves. It pulled its invisible fingers through their fur. The first snow drifted down to fall amongst their limbs. A lone wolf looked on as the snow slowly covered his deceased comrades. He lifted his muzzle to howl at the clouds, at the sky, at the world. And turned his eyes west, towards the murderers of his pack.
Kallana awoke with the smell of unicorns and blood all around her. Her vision focused and she tottered to her feet. There were unicorns all around her whispering and staring. There was a wooden frame around the circle of blood the held her. Her wings had somehow been stretched out and tied to the frame so that her wingspan could be shown off, it also effectively pinned her. Her legs were also shackled in a similar way and her beak was bound shut. How could they have tied me like this? She thought while she stared at the grim assembly before her. Unicorns can't tie ropes, they have hooves! A quick movement near the unicorn's legs caught her eye. Pans! They resembled the ones near the Hallowed Hills but all of the looked half starved and gaunt. Some had feathers in their shaggy manes with rings and necklaces made out of shiny metals. The one nearest to her was sitting cross legged and chanting. She couldn't tell if it was male or female because it was covered by ragged bits of cloth and hide but of what she could see of it's fur it was very old. It's head was actually inside the old skull of a unicorn, and the skulls of small rodents were strung around it's neck. Movement brought her out of her reverie and she raised her head defiantly as a huge unicorn approached her, walking slowly and with dignity. He stopped just outside the circle and turned to the old pan.
"Chaggarakka, are you quite finished with all your mumbo-jumbo?" The creature raised his head and eyed the unicorn balefully through the eye sockets of the skull.
"Magick takes times, oh impatient one," He rasped quietly. "Would you risk not having her fully bound before she is place before the Great One?" Would you put your life in trusting mere ropes?" he continued, holding up a piece to punctuate his point. The large unicorn glared at him for a while before turning back to Kallana.
"Forgive the old goat," He sneered "He's as senile as the Thunder King of old." He stared hard, pacing around her, looking over her wings admiringly. "If only these were different times,"he sighed dramatically "If the Great One wasn't demanding sacrifices left, right and center, I might have taken you as my mate. Oh well." The little pan stood up quivering with rage.
"Why you ungrateful wretch! How dare you blasphemy the Great One like that!" He started forward, bony finger pointing like a claw. "You should be gutted and hamstrung and left out in the sun to be picked at by buzzards! You are not even fit to be fed to the slaves!" The unicorn wheeled around, rearing as he did, and planted his forelegs on either side of the goat man stopping short his tirade.
"Oh shut up you miserable little sheep, rant all you want about what the Great One will do, but if I was in your place I'd be worried about my own neck." With a snort he stepped back. "Is the stupid hippogrif secure? If she isn't when I place her before the Great One, I'll be sure to tell him it was your fault. The pan stared up at him with hatred in his eyes and snarled savagely,
"She's secure you poor excuse for a unicorn, I hope you choke on your next prey!" The unicorn turned one eye back at the enraged creature and said
"If I do, be sure that it will be you I'll be swallowing." With that last parting shot he nodded to some of the pans who immediately took up the remaining ropes that were still tied to her legs and wings and led her to the cliff overlooking the village and to the dark cave carved into it.
As the herd unicorns had surrounded the trio, Kazheo struck out with his claws and fangs. As the sleeping gas carried in braziers by little goat-like creatures slowed his pulse and sent him staggering, he tore out the troat of a unicorn that was too hasty. Even as the edges of his vision blurred, he caused death and destruction among their ranks until, at last, he fell in a heap at the hooves of their leader. And then he knew no more.