The Unicorn Queen: Ari’s Origin
The bolt of lightning that exploded through the roof of the barn had rocketed her of her feet and thrown her mind into the past. Into the memories that brought her to this moment…
Acirassac, the fifth of her name, was the only blooded daughter of king and queen Neris. A descendant of Asoscia, the prodigious warrior queen who battled the 5 High demons during the Iron Wars to bring peace to the land of Unakite. As a princess she lived her days in the castle above the city that hung in the salmon clouds over the highest mountain.
Living in a castle may sound like a pleasant life but Ari’s life seemed to be controlled by one thing only, her destiny to become queen. From dusk till dawn she studied hard to become a great leader like her father and her ancestors before him. She felt trapped behind the stone castle walls and whenever she looked over at the city she longed for the unknown beyond the horizon.
When Ari’s parents mysteriously disappeared within the Ivy forests of Nantak, she was in despair but she quickly had to pull herself together and accept her responsibilities to one day be queen. Her dreams of adventure slowly faded away as she upheld her royal duties to make her parents proud in their absence.
Everything she had to do was either written in the ancient scrolls or decided upon by the royal counsel. Until her parents were found she had to do what she was told by the 6 old men who sat around a table and discussed politics and read scrolls all day. The head of this counsel was Zopar, the toad. He was further appointed guardian of Unakite until Ari fully claimed her throne. Zopar towered over the elderly men, with crooked and bushy eyebrows that seemed to always emphasize his disdain. He reeked of the lake that birthed him.
She wasn’t fond of Zopar, he was awful. He was sly and cunning in nature and whenever she questioned him about her parent’s disappearance and what was being done to find them, all he said was “A princess does not concern herself with such things, the counsel takes care of it.” Ari couldn’t just stand back and do nothing, but what could she do?
She would often look at the tapestry which hung in the throne room depicting the epic battle between Asoscia and the 5 High demons. She wanted to be like her, strong and brave. She wanted to find her parents, she wanted to be a hero. Tears welled up in her eyes as she felt helpless, she looked at the tapestry and shouted “I’ll never be like you, the great Asoscia, Queen of Unakite!” Suddenly she heard a rumble like thunder, the air started to swirl lifting objects as it blew across the room while the tapestry started to glow.
The light was bright and blinded Ari for a few seconds. She was petrified as she saw a shadow come towards her from the tapestry. She didn’t know what was going on but her instincts took over as she summoned the power within. The incantation spilled from her lips “Zezora Entarantis” and the shadow was lifted off the ground, immobilized and placed in front of her.
“Who are you?!” She demand as she looked at the being that lay before her. The shadow wore a long grey hooded robe and half its face was covered by cloth, that is when she noticed the creature’s eyes. They were striking yet calm, a pool of grey and green with specs of hazel stared back at her. Again she asked “Who are you?”
The creature spoke, in a deep voice “I am Hterag, son of Lien. I reign from the Five Pointed Kingdoms.”
The Mortal Realm, Ari thought, she had heard stories of the realm, whispers in the village. She never thought it was real. “What are you? What do you want? Why are you here?” she probed.
Hterag squinted his eyes to get a better look at her, ” Do you mind letting me down? It’s not very welcoming of you, do you always do this to your guests? “
Ari grimaced at him “You are no guest, I did not invite you.”
“Well you sure look like her, the one in the picture. Why don’t you let me down so we can talk, I’m starting to get a stitch in my side which is rather uncomfortable.”
“Asoscia?” Ari could only stare in the face of his bold statement. She hesitated yet there was something about this creature that made her feel safe. “I will let you down, as long as you give me the answers I require.”
With a nod of her head Ari loosened her hold on Hterag. “That’s much better,” Hterag said as he stood up, stretching his back “What a trip! I’m starving.” He lifted the hood off his head revealing long ginger hair tied into a pony tail. As he stepped forward he pulled the cloth from his mouth and spoke “I am Hterag. A human mage dedicated to opening portal through the Gaelic tapestry in my library.”
Ari had never seen or heard of such a creature, yes there were stories of them but nothing like what she was witnessing right in front of her eyes. His skin was soft and pale and his bones seemed fragile.
Hterag waved his hands pointing to the tapestry on the wall “You really do bare a striking resemblance to her!”
“That is Asoscia, my ancestor, she walked this land many centuries ago and brought peace to the people. I am not who you seek.”
Hterag moved closer “So you mean to tell me that the woman there summoned me from beyond the grave?” Suddenly he was thrown to the floor and felt excruciating pain.
Ari was above him, fire in her eyes, “You do not speak of the Great Asoscia with such vulgarity, human.”
“Okay, Okay, relax, I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m sorry.”
“Tell me exactly why you are here, human!” Ari demanded.
“While I was working on my gateway spells, I managed to tear an entryway to another realm. Through the tear came a female voice. I was told to walk through it and offer assistance to the one beyond the portal. When I asked the voice who it was, it told me that she would be the only salvation for all the know realms. Being the dashing & courageous man that I am I took on the quest. That is how & when I landed up here. She didn’t tell me I was going to be met with some pugnacious tart.”
Ari picked Hterag up his legs dangling in the air she thought for a moment, “Could this be true did the Great Asoscia send this creature to help me save my parents?” Ari looked at him and into his eyes once again, she saw the pool of green and grey with hazel specs that glittered in the candle light, she felt something inside her, something different, a calming and a longing to know more about this stranger. She gently placed him down and introduced herself. “I am princess Acirassac, of Ukanite.”
“My parents have been missing in the Ivy forests of Nantak for the past year, no one knows what have become of them. Their guards watched as the ground opened up and swallowed them, there was nothing they could do as a force field surrounded my parents” Ari held back her tears, careful not show any weakness in the face of this mortal. “The royal counsel believes they have been trapped but no one has been able to find out where and no one seems to care. I need to find them but unfortunately I don’t know how-
Hterag suddenly collapsed to the silkwood floor, convulsing in agony. Without caution, Ari fell to her knees in worry. She gently rubbed rhythmic circles over his back in an attempt to ease his suffering. When he calmed enough, he looked at her in alarm.
“What in the seven gypsies was that about?”
Ari offered a sad smile, her senses already picking up on the truth of the matter. “Your mortal body cannot survive this realm. Too soon, your magic will wane and you will pass to great beyond.”
She expected the human to return to his lands that very moment, what she did not expect was his taking of her hand and the impossible sincerity within in his eyes as he spoke, “I am beholden to thee.” Her breath caught, he smiled broadly. “Until we find your parents that is.”
|Art Cred: Cassarica Nadas|
In the days that followed, Ari’s fascination with the mage only grew in magnitude. Sure at times he drove her to all manner of madness but there was something about his determination that, that touched her. He worked long hours through night & day to find a way to track her parents. The trouble was that Unakite’s apothecary stocked very different materials than he was accustomed to. Yet even in this adversity Hterag, in all his wonder, had still found a way to make it all work.
The spell led them to the Orc lands of Drunkden, a most heinous of places that breathed a poisonous bog from its many swamps. Poor Hterag’s lungs burned in agony, it was all Ari could do to shield his glorious body from the harmful toxins. She could not stilt the terrible stench, though. Not long, they happened upon a cave that seemed to have been carved out by the very Rock Giants themselves. Ari silently admonished herself for bringing only a mortal guide on this journey. The cave opened in expected darkness, she breathed into a fist and released her hold whispering the ancient incantation for ‘light’. Resplendent wisps of fire floated in the air around them, illuminating the cavern within.
Ari gasped for what she saw before her. Zopar! Resting on a rock at the far end as if on a throne. His smirk casting sinister shadows upon his face. Hterag stepped in front of Ari in a protective stance. How she admired this mortal’s resolve, standing between her & the toad who once laid waste to an entire army with only the snap of his greasy green fingers.
“My, my little unicorn. How far you have strayed from your chosen path. Prancing around with this human filth & leaving the castle without any guard. Tsk Tsk Tsk.”
“What are you doing here Zopar? Where are my parents?” Ari could feel the energy waves radiate from her now, she was ready to do whatever it took to get answers from this devious toad.
Zopar’s face flashed in anger, in one motion he leaped of the rock in an arch through the air. He landed not two inches from Hterag’s face. Completely ignoring the mage, his bushy eyebrows squinted at her. “Do not demand from me you infidel. I tortured those traitors and when they no longer had any information of use to me, they were silenced.”
Ari’s already fragile heart, broke right then. Her knees gave way and she crumpled to the damp earth of the cave.
Hterag bellowed and launched a fireball right at the toad’s face, an explosion rang out in the cave. But when the smoke cleared Zopar’s face remained unblemished. Two massive blue skinned Orcs stepped out from the darkness, seizing Hterag by his arms. He grunted from the force of their brutish hands.
Zopar looked down at Ari in glee, “Come now child, surely you realize this by now. My plan all along. It was not your precious Asoscia that summoned this filth to our lands but I. I alone knew of your secret longings of a life filled with adventure. It was more than I could have hoped for that you fall in love with this whelp along the way.”
His words rang true within her core, she could not deny it. She had hopelessly fallen in love with the human mage but he didn’t need to know that right at this very moment. Surely he would tease her endlessly. First, she had to get them out of here.
As if reading her thoughts, Zopar snapped his greasy fingers and the entirety of the cave shook from the force of his spell. The air crackled with sparks of energy and a tear in space appeared right behind her.
The last thing she saw was Hterag’s face as he shouted for her.
The last thing she felt was a pull at her mid-section and then…falling…endless falling into parts unknown.
While joking with some great friends, the basis for this story was formed. Part 1 of this story can be found here.
Such amazing talent here, I couldn’t wait to share it with you all.
Thank you Cass for sharing your writing with us!
Stay tuned, as this weekend I’ll be featuring “The Samurai: Eru’s Origin”
Part 2 of “The Unicorn Queen, The Samurai & The Wizard” will be posted next week, which continues where the storyline left off.