Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Playing: a snippet of fiction

Inspired by Susan Adrian, who was herself inspired by Scott Tracey, I’m posting a little snippet of a story I wrote a while back.

It’s a “coming of age” tale of a unicorn and a young girl. I’d written it for a proprietary world anthology (hence the brackets around the generic city name), but the editors disbanded the idea of the anthology without going to print.

Here’s the beginning…

Süchender bent his long-maned head to the black, rich earth of the forest and dug a small trench with his horn. Boredom more than any purpose drove him to dig the hollow, yet he couldn’t help but enjoy the odor of the fresh-turned soil. Even in this harsh place, on the outskirts of [the evil city], small signs of beauty could be found.

And beauty is what he sought– his own.

At nearly three years of age he should have reached full-maturity. But his dappled coat belied that and prevented him from joining the others during the mating season in the fall. Large, dark birthmarks still peppered his dun-colored hide, the same as all immature unicorns. Only good deeds might erase his spots, brighten his dull gray coat to white, and allow his magic to emerge.

He turned his head and rubbed his sullied horn against a hoof-sized birthmark on his left shoulder. The dirt-stain lay hidden beneath the dark blemish, but the gray coat surrounding the spot now bore the filthy scruffs.

He huffed, letting out a weary sigh, and wondered not for the first time if there were anything he could do to demonstrate his worthiness.

Süchender resumed his digging, using his horn like a spade: stabbing the ground, turning his head to catch the soil in the conch-like twists of his horn, then flinging the dirt aside before stabbing again–until a round, black berry landed neatly in the soil beside his nose.

He froze, noticing a muddy pair of boot-clad feet and ankles standing within his view just across the small clearing.

Then he realized he couldn’t move at all.

Paralyzed by the lasso-berry’s magic, he had no choice but to keep his horn in the ground and his hooves firmly planted in the loamy soil. He cursed himself for a fool, so engrossed in his digging that he didn’t think to keep a watchful eye for danger. Accustomed to the protection of the herd, he hadn’t given it a passing thought.

He had no protection against this witch or her sorcery, but at least the pleasant smell of the fresh-turned soil covered most of her foul stench. Of course, if the scent of new earth had not masked the warning of her pungent odor, he would have discerned it long ago, and retreated.

Instead, he stood there, withers shaking, while she stalked around him, pacing counter-clockwise. Her broken fingernails scratched against his hide as her rough hand caressed down his flank and over his croup. She pulled his tail as she rounded him, and came to a stop in front of his nose.

If he owned magic enough to discern her virginity, her touch would have comforted him. But he hadn’t even power to detect that–though he knew she must be untouched. How else could the witch see him, let alone capture him? No animal-mage had the power to feign virginity.

This close, he could smell the fullness of her witchy musk. Perhaps if she bathed once in a while, her smell might not be quite so offensive. He sneezed as she moved closer, her odor irritating.

“I have you now,” she said, bending to retrieve her berry.

She touched it to his forelock, directly above his horn, and muttered a spell. His muscles thawed, and he raised his head, shaking it about to remove the stiffness.

She was young, he noticed. No warts. Perhaps she was out to earn her first one.

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