http://www.fictionalley.org/ficalley/reviews/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=62 - My story board at FA.org - You don't have to be a member or to register to visit. Crystals and Shadows is finished. There will be a sequel for CnS after HnH is finished.

VI - Promise

"What are you going to do?" Godric demanded, confronting Salazar whose calm face and shrewd eyes told that he had been expecting Godric.

"Sell it, of course," Salazar answered blandly, pretending not to see the horror dawning on the other wizard's face.

Turning pale, Godric shifted his eyes from Salazar to the unicorn foal that was keeping to the far side of its glowing prison. After a few moments, he looked back at the Dark wizard.

"You cannot to do such a thing," Godric said faintly. When Salazar lifted a questioning brow, silently querying why he shouldn't, Godric began blurting out reasons such as:

"It will be on display. Its tail and mane hairs would be plucked out. They will sell rides- They will slaughter it for its horn when it's full grown! Salazar, you cannot do this!"

However his arguments fell heedless on Salazar's ears. The wizard simply countered that its fate would be no different from countless other creatures and beasts.

"It is just an animal, Godric."

"Just an animal?! No, Salazar, it is not just an animal!"

There was a frightened neigh at Godric's furious shout. All of a sudden regretful, Godric quieted with regret, reaching his hand to rest it on the shimmering wall of the sphere. He would try to comfort the poor creature trapped inside. He expected the globe to be unyielding to his touch, but his fingers felt nothing though his eyes perceived that they had met the barrier.

Something tugged gently on his fingers. It seemed as though an invisible hand had closed over his and was pulling with increasing insistence. Godric let out a startled cry when he was drawn in bodily. Propelled forward by a powerful unseen force, Godric's feet caught against each other, tripping their owner. He landed on his knees and hands, his face pressing into rasping autumn leaves littered across the ground.

Once again, the unicorn cried, terrified. Godric looked up to see it rear and bashed its fore hooves against the inner wall of the sphere. Clack! Clack! They went, the sound was solid and hard. Futilely, it tried to break its way out, away into the safe trees, away from the dirty human in its cage.

Tears clogged Godric's throat making thick the reassuring words he whispered in vain.

"Don't be afraid. I will not hurt you. Don't be afraid."

But it continued to cry and ram its feet on the wall. It sounded so plaintive and wretched that Godric forced himself to his feet, turning away to stare through unshed tears at Salazar on the outside. Too burdened pain, he failed to discern the sad haze in the green eyes watching him closely.

"Let it go, Salazar." Godric's words were slowly said, heavy in weight. When he heard no answer, he added, "Please," in a single desperate syllable.

It moved Salazar. With a movement of hand and wand that Godric barely noticed the magical sphere vanished. Like Godric, the unicorn, in mid-leap, stumbled forward, passing through the dispelled wall, landing on its knees and surprised that it was free.

It was quick to recover. There came the sound of pounding hooves upon crackling dead leaves. It faded in bare seconds. Without turning around to see, Godric knew it was gone.

It took longer for his eyes to clear, and far more time was required before the tight knot in his heart would ease. Once it settled, the pain turned into an unfeeling numbness, he knew he would never return to this place again.

"Thank you, Salazar."

There was a long pause before the other wizard answered.

"You owe me, Godric. It took a long time to capture that unicorn."

"I'm sorry. I will return the favor someday."

"Is that a promise?"

Wanting only to leave the clearing, Godric lifted and lowered his chin brusquely. The short nod satisfied Salazar, who smiled and gestured at Godric to precede the way.

Hours after the wizards left, no unicorn yet ventured into the unshaded circle in the forest. Many days would pass before finally the horned beasts came back to play there once again. Less happily, for one of their number was missing, a human boy they had once befriended and found long ago asleep underneath a tree.

The End.