Monday, December 31, 2012
Lyra thought she heard a sound off in the woods. The beautiful girl loved to explore the dark and foreboding forest despite her mother's warning.
"You never know what you'll find in the forest, Lyra," her mother would admonish, drying her hands on her ever-present apron.
But Lyra wouldn't listen. She'd made many friends in the forest: deer, rabbits, birds. She knew to watch for the signs of a wolf or bear and avoid those areas. She would put her tracking skills up against any hunter in the village.
But this was a new sound, something she'd never heard before. She turned, her blue eyes trying to pierce the foliage to ascertain the sound's source. Walking carefully on leather turnshoes, she stepped closer and closer, the sounds guiding her flawlessly. Coming to a clearing in the dense wood, she gasped. Before her was a creature that only lived in legend, myth, and fairytale: a unicorn.
It was said that only virgin girls could approach the elusive horned beast. At aged seventeen and a bit of a tom boy, that was not an issue for Lyra. She softly, slowly, stepped into the clearing, the sun rays lighting up the alabaster hide of the unicorn, it's long horn on its forehead opalescent in the warm light as if it were made not of horn but some magical material like the jewels the ladies of the village sometimes wore.
Lyra accidentally stepped on a small twig but the breaking sound seemed to boom in the clearing. The unicorn turned with unimaginable speed and looked at her, its eyes registering its displeasure. It galloped toward the girl, the sound reverberating through the soil as it lowered its head, pointing the sharp horn right at Lyra's breast.
The girl took in a sharp breath but could not move. She knew she was to die here, now, painfully. She knew deep sadness and grief in the few seconds the unicorn took to cross the clearing. If she had to die, this was they way she wanted it to be.
The beast bore down on her, not hesitating, not flinching, the horn aimed for her heart. At the last moment, too fast almost for Lyra to react, the animal turned, and rammed the horn into the bear that had been stalking Lyra. The brown beast howled with anger and pain as it was impaled on that horn. Blood ran down the horn, staining the unicorn's hide red. Lyra could only watch, amazed that this unicorn had saved her life.
The unicorn tossed its head and flung the bear away into the woods. Lyra heard it crashing against branches and found herself hoping it was already dead.
The unicorn backed up a few feet, whinnied, and looked at Lyra. That's when she noticed it, too, had blue eyes.
A thought came into her head: "Go, and tell no one."
Lyra nodded, turned so fast her blonde hair got caught in some branches. She ignored the pain as she ran from the clearing.
And she never told anyone.