Stories on the edge of familiarity

Hidden in Sealskin (the new beginning, part 5 of 5)

(Note: the copyright notice and its subsequent showing-to-the door of unfun people in part 1 applies here, too.)

The unicorn’s tension rang through her, sharp and discordant. It was difficult not to return that or worse, but Adren held fast and let herself feel only tenderness. In response, the unicorn relaxed, which Adren could both feel through the connection and see as the unicorn’s taut muscles became soft again. Its eyes closed.

Adren rose to her feet, wincing at the complaints of her legs, uncomfortable from crouching so long. The fence-gate creaked but, when she looked, she could find no one else up and conscious, so she stretched, lulled by the unicorn’s gentle thrum of contentment in the back of her mind. This connection fascinated her. How did it work? What were its limits?

She opened her eyes only to see Pider, knife in hand, about to stab the unicorn. Energy rushed through Adren. As the unicorn shied away, fear spiking into her mind, she grabbed Pider’s arm. He strained against her, but she forced his arm down, leaving his body open. With a quick in-out, she punched him in the gut. He doubled over, and she twisted, back to him, to wrestle the knife out of his hand. As soon as she had it, his other arm snaked over her body.

Well, she had a knife. So she shifted her hold and stabbed him in the side. Pider cried out, and Adren slipped out from his grasp. Teeth clenched, he reached for the knife.

“Don’t!” said Adren. Pider paused. Too quickly for him to react, she pulled out the knife herself. She twisted the blade in his flesh as she did, making the wound larger. “It was keeping you from bleeding.” Sure enough, a red stain spread out on his shirt following the knife’s removal.

They stared at each other a moment, Adren with her knife at the ready. Pider’s hand hovered over his wound, and his eyes flicked up and down this young woman whose head only came up to his shoulders. Those shoulders rounded, and he pressed his hand into his side with a grimace, body already turning away for flight.

“Listen to me carefully, Pider.” The steel in her words didn’t waver. “If you ever try to harm me or the unicorn again, I will kill you myself.”

He ran.

Adren waited until a little after she could no longer see him before she turned to the unicorn and put a hand on its flank. A refrain, in time with her footsteps, pounded through her head all the way home:

Never. Trust. His kind. Again.

 

 

The end.

…or, rather, the beginning. :D

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