The Return Of The Unicorn

By: Midnight Maiden

(Disclaimer- All characters belong to Peter S. Beagle)

Chapter Three: The Battle Worth Fighting

The Red Bull laughed at her, he laughed. He thought it was humorous that she loved a mortal. He thought it was humorous that she would even think of fighting him. He laughed and laughed and laughed!

Then he charged. The Unicorn jumped back and something splashed. She looked at her hocks. Water surrounded her. There was no beach! She reared high and whinnied shrilly. The bull continued his pursuit and she had nowhere to go but back. He was going to push her into the sea! He was going to trap her forever! Soon all that was left above the water was her head. She tried to escape but there was nowhere to go. She took her final free breath as a wave crashed over her head, locking her away.

"Help!" Amalthea jumped up in her bed. She was soaked from sweat and tears streamed uncontrollably down her cheeks. She heard a knock at the door and knew it was Lir but she couldn't answer, so he let himself in. When he saw her crying he sat on the bed and held her in his arms. She sobbed into his shoulder and when at last she had no more tears he asked, "Amalthea, what happened."

"He…pushed me…he locked me away! He pushed me…right into the…sea. He…laughed…at…me!" Even though she thought she had cried them all out more tears spilled as she recalled her terrifying nightmare.

Lir pulled her tighter gently crooning, "No one will take you to the sea. The red bull is gone Amalthea. He can do no more harm."

She looked at Lir like a child with a monster under her bed. "But he can Lir, he can."


The red bull stormed in his ocean prison. The Unicorn had come back. She taunted him just by being here. But now that she was back, he could finally destroy her like he should have done long ago.

True, he could not leave the ocean physically, but he could leave mentally. He could send her nightmares, visions, and callings. He could ruin her mind; make her believe she had gone mad. He would have his Unicorn.


The next night, Lir and Amalthea sat on the balcony watching the ocean and the stars. "I always feel like Haggard when I watch the ocean. This was all he ever did and I never knew why." Lir said.

"You could not have known. No one could have known. Not even the very last Unicorn." She whispered sadly.

"Don't regret Amalthea. Don't blame yourself for my uncles mistakes."

"But sometimes I can't help it. I was here for months and I still hadn't figured it out until some one laid it all out for me."

"What happened, happened. It wasn't your fault that you were the last, so we'll just drop it here."

She nodded.

Suddenly the sea churned and tainted red. It pounded against the foundation of the castle and threatened to crush anything on its surface. Then Amalthea saw it—The Bull! He stood on the waves and stared menacingly at her, daring her to enter the water.

The unicorn part of her took over. She became hoof and horn once again. She bugled her challenge to the bull and reared, showing her horn to him.

She jumped from the balcony to the sandy beach. She strode purposefully to the oceans edge waving her horn like a banner. The cold touch of the water brought her back from her battle-clouded trance but it was too late. The red sea had her. It pulled at her and dragged her in. It wove around her hocks and knees. She pulled away violently but couldn't escape. She was trapped.

Behind her she heard yelling. "Unicorn, you must be Amalthea! Now, Unicorn!"

Surprisingly the voice wasn't Lir's it was Shmendrick's. She didn't have time to care. She concentrated and became Lady Amalthea once again. She expected the hold around her to relax but it didn't. She had no way out. She was trapped! "Shmendrick!" She called. "Help me! Shmendrick HELP!" She was so confused she had no control of the power Shmendrick had given her and was a Unicorn again. The water was rising above her neck and she thrust her head. Her eyes rolled wildly and she snorted loudly. She was going to be trapped!

The stained ocean swirled around her as it completely swallowed her. Then she heard it. The bull was laughing at her! She was his prisoner forever. She cried and cried. Shmendrick, Molly, and Lir stood on the beach crying for her but she couldn't reach them. She tried to flow out with the waves but she was always stopped before she could escape.

Finally she gave up and collapsed. She didn't have the strength or heart to fight anymore. The Last Unicorn had lost to her former enemy. Then she heard Shmendrick and Lir arguing.

"Shmendrick! Save her!" Lir shouted.

"I can't," he answered sadly. "Only she can save herself."

"How Shmendrick? She is trapped in the ocean!"

"No…the Unicorn is trapped in the ocean. The Lady is not."

Molly gasped. "She must be Amalthea then?"

Shmendrick nodded. "The bull challenged her and her Unicorn self accepted. He called to the Unicorn, not the Lady."

The Unicorn smiled despite her current position. She could be free! She thought about all of the things she did as a human. Kissing Lir, braiding her hair, boating, picking flowers…She felt herself change. The ocean erupted and shot in all directions away from her. She rose into the still remembering her human self. Light flooded from her bare body and she was soon too bright to see. She landed on the beach in front of her, still glowing faintly. Molly took off her cloak and put it over the Amalthea.

When she didn't open her eyes Lir asked cautiously, "Is she…alive?"

"She is." Shmendrick answered. "She used a lot of magic to destroy the bull."

"Then the bull is gone forever?" Molly asked.

"Yes. He could not accept defeat and was destroyed. Finally, he has truly paid for his heinous crime against the Unicorns. Amalthea has saved them all again. She has saved us all."

Amalthea slowly opened her eyes and felt a need to be Unicorn. Her figure molded on the beach as she stared at the sea. Her beautiful silver main and tail whipped in the wind and her violet eyes danced in triumph. She reared, touching the sky, and her bugle rang across the entire Earth. She stood proudly, the sea was no longer infected with the Red Bull's presence and she was truly free. She would never worry again.

She turned to her friends and immediately walked to Shmendrick. She rested her head on his shoulder and blew in his ear. Shmendrick smiled. Only he knew what the Unicorns simple gesture meant. The Unicorn had once told him, as had Molly, that Unicorn hated men. She had not even let Lir touch her when she was a Unicorn.

"Thank you," she whispered and stepped away.

She threw the cloak over her body and became Amalthea. She ran to Lir and threw her arms around him. He held her close, stroking her hair. "I love you." She cried into his shoulder. She had almost lost him forever; left him to face the world alone.

"I love you too."

Molly watched the scene. She leaned her back against Shmendrick's chest and his arms wrapped around her shoulders. The Unicorn had once shown her that her life was not over just because it felt that way. She had taken her away from her terrible life with Captain Cully and shown her Shmendrick. She had shown her that some things were worth waiting for and she would be forever grateful.

The sun rose and a rainbow played across the sky. At the end a Unicorn stood and looked approvingly at Amalthea before running back to where ever it had come from. Amalthea waved goodbye and smiled. Her old regrets disappeared as she saw what had resulted from her struggles. Her sufferings were more than worth it in the end.