Unicorns of Balinor
Burning Truth

She ran. She had to get away. Her feet were bare, and she'd left her coat back there. At home.

"No. It was never home," she whispered to herself, running faster.

Faster. She pushed herself, to her very limits.

Rolling thunder boomed around her, and it began to rain. Her hair flew out behind her, the odd strand glued itself to her face. The concrete below her feet grew slippery, and she stumbled over the pathway. Her legs, her knees, were trembling, not only from the cold, but from the pain. Reyna had never run so far in her life. She'd never needed to.

"Or I was too afraid."

They'd surely catch up. Were they even following? Who cares? It was safer not to find out. The ground below seemed to shake, her mouth tasted like blood. Was it the fear, or the beating? She'd never run from anything in her life. Reyna fought, stood her ground. But this time, it was too much. Her mother was violent, but her partners were always worse. They'd drink. And then they'd beat Reyna. Her mother would do nothing, but stand and watch as her boyfriend beat her daughter. What kind of mother was she? 'Not my mother,' Reyna thought to herself. 'No. I was adopted.' And she was glad. She'd hated the very idea of being related by blood to that woman.

From where she ran, there was nothing for her. Nothing but pain.

Searing pain, as she slipped and fell to her knees. She pulled herself to her feet and continued running, past the buildings, past the trees. She ran from the city, from the pavement and flashing lights. The sky grew dark, the air got colder, and her skin prickled as her toes and fingers became numb and still she ran. The ground beneath her feet was soft, muddy. Beside her, tall grass lined the dirt road. Reyna turned her head, looking behind her. A car turned the corner, and the light was on her, getting brighter the closer it got. She leapt off the road, and into the grass, not bothering to look back. She ran further from the road, and threw herself over a wire fence. A corn field. Of all the places she could have been in, she was in a corn field. Which way was where? Where was she facing? Where was she going? It didn't matter. She was shorter than the plants, and she was well hidden. She was panting hard and was short of breath. She wanted to collapse, to stay on the ground, hidden forever, but she wouldn't allow herself to. She lifted her legs higher, pushing her way through the forest of corn, falling sideways every now and then. She gathered her strength, and pushed herself further, faster. It was dark, so dark, and she was surrounded. She had nowhere to go, no idea where she was. She was suffocating, confused, and exhausted. She ran through the corn, and then, there was none. All of a sudden, she was out in the open. She'd stopped running, and just stood, staring at her surroundings. Her hair was dripping and matted, her jeans and t-shirt were ripped and covered in dirt and blood. Her chest was heaving, her heart racing, and her throat burning. She began running again. Her legs felt like jelly, and still she was able to leap the next fence, and the next, and the next. Through grassy, dirty fields she ran, the road to the side in the far distance. No cars drove up it, no lights distracted her. Even further away, to the other side, were huge hills, mountains, the loomed above the entire city. They were amazing, fascinating. She loved everything about them. Yet, she'd never touched them, never climbed them, never stepped foot near them. The closer she got, the more insatiable the urge to go to them. Her school teacher had told her class that years, centuries before, glaciers had moved through the land, creating the mountains. Of course, that was before her mother had pulled her from school. She had been only eight when her mother forced her to pass up an education, to 'help around the house'.

One last fence. She was on another dirt road. She turned swiftly, and ran down the drive way. She gritted her teeth, and passed the sign that read 'Glacier River Farms'. She'd never been here before, though she'd wished she had. Horse riding lessons. Oh, how she'd longed for them. Perhaps one day, she could ask for a job there, in exchange for lessons. She was sixteen, old enough to work. But now wasn't the time. It was a huge farm, and the paddocks down the back lead to the mountains, where she could hide.

"Ow! Why'd I leave my shoes behind?"

She was treading gravel. Oh well, not long until yet another grassy field. And there it was. She cleared the fence, and raced through the field. She was slowing down. Too slow. But she couldn't push herself any more. Her body was shutting down. She needed rest, she was exhausted and in pain, yet she wouldn't allow it. She turned her head, looking back at the farmhouse. A light suddenly clicked on, and a figure moved into the window. They would certianly see her if she stopped now. Reyna bit into her hand, and ran. She sped up, faster and faster. Over more fences, past sleeping cows, leaving the house and barn behind. The buildings got smaller and smaller, and the mountains seemed higher and higher. She ran from the fields, and into the tall trees. She could smell the pine, feel the pine needles and mud beneath her feet. She was so focused on running, she didn't notice the slope before her. All of a sudden, there was no ground. She fell, almost tumbling, down the slope, trying to gain her footing again. She slipped and rolled, and hit the flat ground with a thud. She lay on her side, writhing in pain. Her head had hit something hard, and she was aching all over. Her eyes closed slowly, and the rain continued to pour over her. Her head and legs were aching, and she was bleeding all over. After five minutes, she gathered the strength to lift her head. She'd hit the cliff face of one of the mountains. She pulled herself up onto her knees, and stared upwards, the mountainside standing threateningly, inpressively, above her. She ran her hand over the hard rock, and blindly felt her way to her feet. She could barely see a thing, the sky was so dark on that moonless night.

Standing back, as her eyes adjusted, she was beside a cave. It pulled at her, compelled her to step inside. She feared it, yet she needed to be inside. The perfect place to hide! She stepped, shuddering, into the cave, and collapsed on the floor. She dragged herself along the dry, dusty floor, and brought her knees up to her chin. As she lay, listening to the dripping of water from in the cave, and the falling rain from outside it, her eyes closed, and she drifted into a half-sleep. There was a ..smell, an odour. A terrible odour. A dull, yellow-green light, and the sound of thousands of buzzing insects. Her eyes opened, sleepily, and closed again. The smell was stronger now, that light brighter, and sound louder. Whatever was in the cave with her was getting closer, and it struck fear into her heart. She gasped, not in horror, but for lack of breath. She couldn't breathe. Her eyes darted open, and she clawed at the dirt, and then her own neck. There was something tightening around her throat, yet, she could feel nothing. Utter terror. And then, a flash of violet, and a faint scent of roses. Her eyes closed, her breath came back to her, and then darkness. Sleep, at last.