A/N: I hadn't expected to continue this fic, actually. I accidentally categorized it as an on-going story instead of a one-shot. As such, I had no idea how to go off for the second chapter, but those nice reviews made me want to try, so here goes nothing.
The journey was far harder than she'd expected; she'd known nothing of true physical weariness as a Unicorn traversing the land, only that of spirit. After a few days it was a struggle to place one foot in front of the other, repeatedly. Schmendrick had returned her mortal form of old, perfectly formed and flush with health—but not endurance. She suffered both this and her first brush with annoyance as her tender feet bore her weight day after day. Though she was unused to such trifling feelings, she maintained the dignity of a Unicorn still, further aided by the fact that the face she bore while imprisoned in immortal form did not display any sentiments at all so easily, and so she did not think to portray any now. Her new/old body was not accustomed to forming a link between her face and emotions. She simply went on.
Schmendrick always provided adequate housing each night, formed from natural elements, but he and Molly currently possessed no horses, and Schmendrick could not be persuaded into calling up mounts out of thin air, insisting it was too great a feat of magic for him yet.
"Surely not," Molly objected mildly. She was no so ardently in favor of his doing so, rather used to the exercise, but cared deeply for her lady's comfort.
"I might find I have accidentally summoned a true horse from another's stable," he argued, "or that I have tried to harness unstable elements into a form that dissolves halfway through their gallop. How would that be, then?" He shifted the stick on his shoulder, attached to the bundle of personal belongings, twin to Molly's.
Molly made a noncommittal sound, perhaps saying no more because she believed he was simple nervous about miscasting magic—her expression showed both her faith in him and her lack of personal involvement on the issue. She shrugged apologetically to the former Unicorn.
Amalthea, for her part, found every cloud that passed by silently overhead, moving seemingly without a breeze to blow it, made her nervous. As did ponds that rippled for no reason she could see when she went by, though she recalled that fish under the surface were quicker than the mortal eye. 'The Unicorn is gone,' she was troubled to remind herself often. 'Who is she now to hurt me, but a breeze hardly to be felt?' She was going to Lir; that was what mattered. And she lifted her head and continued on, scarcely a suitable companion for conversation, though as always Molly did not mind. Molly loved her, she knew without a doubt; if there was anyone she could depend on for unquestioning support, it was the older woman.
The Magician, however…he too cared for her. But his sense of morality had freed the Unicorn from the Carnival in the first place. And he did not express forgiveness for what Amalthea had done, though he had not, thus far, betrayed her to Molly. How far could she trust him? Would she even be safe in Lir's arms if Schmendrick discovered the Unicorn truly could not be found?
Schmendrick could sense, in her briefest hesitations, the distance Amalthea placed between them, though she walked easily enough at his side, bracketed by him and the former woodswoman. It at first wounded him, for they had bonded before, but as he quickly fathomed the reason behind it, he considered she may well be right to behave cautiously around her former—former?—ally.
He half-listened as Molly brought Amalthea up to current happenings in the world of man, what kingdom was in power and the present mood of mankind. "They are some rising up again to say nature is sacred and to be dwelt within as little as possible, but others say for the same reason it must be deeply explored, mined for its magic," she explained.
Perhaps it was only his hopeful imagination, but he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as a breeze blew on it, moving his hair around his sturdy new Magician's hat. He had dreamed last eve he heard a voice calling to him while he slept, as before. But what to do even if that was the case? It had been a few years since his harrowing adventure, but he was no Grand Magician, no High Master, not yet. The Unicorn would have no new form to hold her whatever her current state until he could seek quiet meditation to explore the changes in the magic around the earth to locate her. Perhaps in Lir's castle…should he tell the pri—the king? To what purpose thus far? Amalthea seemed at first—even at several—glances to be simply mortal.
Still, around her form, invisible to the masses, if you caught her turning her head in the right light…a glimmer of magic on her hair, her fingertips, marked her as no ordinary woman. It would never fade. She had not been born of flesh and blood, but magic. Did she share a link with the creature whose being had, indirectly, birthed her? Might he call the Unicorn forth from that? Would Amalthea cooperate, or would she refuse, as it was set her apart from Molly's admiration, from Lir's devotion?
Did that thought even bear weight in what he must do?
"We should make camp," Molly said distantly, and he stepped from the main road without realizing it, automatically gliding to a secluded corner of woods in which to form a safe dwelling place for the night. The setting sun made fire in Amalthea's hair. She was pale as the moon, but seemed to take the shades of the world into herself, the pink into her skin, the fiery red-orange into her hair, absorbing them in order to reflect true color as she knelt and sat on a downed tree trunk, resting her arms wearily in her lap.
"I will look for seeds and berries, and good water to refill our skeins, for the wine's long-gone. A hare or such creature will jump into our path for dinner, if we're lucky," the brunette said with a pointed look at her partner. And Molly set off, bade Amalthea rest, and trusted Schmendrick to do the rest. He did, though his thoughts remained troubled. His soul was restive long past the closing of his eyes.
VashandNaomiForever—thank you! I haven't read a lot of TLU fics, so I'm glad this idea isn't overdone.
Phyllis Joy Wolfe—that made me smile. Hope you liked this chapter, though it's kinda slow. Gotta set the mood of the characters, you know.