Gwen: Queen of the Unicorns

by: Ashley Kilburn

At the far end of a distant galaxy, there is a system of planets that most people who have been there call the Fairyland system. It is called so because the six planets in this system are inhabited by creatures only believed to have existed in myth. Dragons, unicorns, fairies, and gnomes that had all died long ago in Earth's folklore were soon discovered by space pioneers.

While I was there I happened to get into a most interesting conversation with the dwarf who was checking passports. He said, "I can quote any story going back to the dawn of time on our planet."

"Really now," I said," Are you sure that you can tell them all?"

"Of course. Until you humans came here with all your fancy gadgets and gizmos, my tribe was in charge of keeping the history of the land, "the dwarf explained.

"Well then, I would like to hear some of those stories. When do you get off work?" I asked.

"In a couple of hours,Ē stated the dwarf. "Go get settled in at your hotel, then meet me at the restaurant on the corner. I will tell you the most important bit of history on our planet."

With all of that settled I went to the hotel, freshened up a little, and went to the window to see what kind of view I had. It was gorgeous. The bright blue sky was reflected in the water in a sparkling, crystalline display. Their sun was sinking lower in the sky, as it was late afternoon. I could see groups of fairy children picking up "pretties" to sell the eager tourists who cam to their shops. Even during the off season in fairyland many tourists, such as myself, could still be found. I glanced at my watch and saw that it was about time to meet the dwarf at the restaurant. I shouldered my purse, locked the door behind me, and went to meet him.

When I arrived at the restaurant the dwarf was already there waiting for me. He was eating one of the rare delicacies on his planet, fried chicken.

"Oh, so you really did want to hear the story,"he said. "My name is Bill, raconteur and historian extraordinaire."

"My name is Maire,vacationing medic,"I said. When the introductions were finished, I ordered my dinner,and asked Bill about the story.

"Oh the story. I had almost forgotten about it. You must excuse me, but my brain is a little addled after being in the presence of a woman as beautiful as yourself,"he said flatteringly.

"All right,"I said,"Stop with the flattery and start with the story,please."

At this point he started one of the most captivating stories that I have ever heard. The most extraordinary thing about the whole story was that according to Bill, it was all true. I will now do my best to recount this story for you.


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About five hundred years before humans came to fairyland, the land was dominated by a fierce group of warriors and their dragons. The peoples of the world, in fear of anything different from themselves, divided into strict tribes that did not allow mixing with other tribes. Each tribe had either a lord, or queen, or both. The lords were trained in warfare, in order to protect their people from the minions of the Dragonfolk. The queens were trained in domestic and fine arts, except in cases where they needed to be trained in warfare. Such as in wars with the Dragonfolk, when there were no male rulers to take over the battle.

In the Valley of the Unicorn Tribe, next to the Dragonfolk Mountains, lived a domestically trained young queen named Gwen. She had never been far from her homeland, even though her unicorn,Goldie, could take her anywhere on the planet in the blink of an eye. She was more concerned with her job of making sure that the unicorns' bloodlines were kept strong, and that they were not inbred too much. Goldie was one of her greatest accomplishments. Spirited and lighthearted, yet she had a sense of responsibility. More often than not, her spirited side would be the one showing.

"Come back here you little prankster!" shouted a soaking wet Gwen. "It's time for your bath.!" Goldie had splashed water from the lagoon all over her. Her blue hair was hanging limp, torn from its ornate hairstyle during the chase. Her golden-tinted skin was covered with scrapes and scratches.

"Come on Goldie." She changed her tone to wheedling. "The water is nice and warm. I should know, seeing as you splashed half the contents of the lagoon on me."

You just try and make me,said the voice of Goldie in her mind. I'll have my bath when I want it.

"Goldie, I'm warning you," threatened Gwen.

Allright, If you insist, said Goldie. Goldie then blinked into the lagoon, and meekly let herself be bathed by Gwen. When her white hide was clean, and every golden hoof as well as her horn had been scrubbed, Gwen felt exhausted.

Would you like me to carry you home? asked Goldie.

"No dear, but would you carry me to that bank over there? It is warm there, and after having all that cold water splashed on me..."

Why are you complaining? You weren't the one that had cold water rubbed into every inch of her hide. But yes, of course I will carry you over to the sand bank. My hide is aching to be warmed.

Just as Gwen was drifting into a deep sleep, she felt herself being lifted up. She cried out and struggled, but could not break free from the strong grasp that held her. Before she knew what was happening she was in chains and thrown over the back of a dragon. She called for Goldie to help her.

I cannot. They have put me in an iron cage. It inhibits my magic, and I cannot escape from it. I am sorry, said Goldie.

Gwen felt something heavy land on the back of her head, and then lost consciousness.

When Gwen awoke she found herself locked in a chamber in the Dragonfolks' dungeon. There was only one other occupant in the cell with her. She could not him clearly, but he must have been thought more dangerous than she, for she was unchained, and he was chained to the grimy wall of the cell.

"Good day,"He said smiling. "So, how do you like the accommodations?"

Gwen did not know how anyone could be so cheerful in a place like this. Soon though, she realized that he was just being sarcastic, when his smile faded to a grimace of pain.

"My name is Sean. What's yours?" he asked, hoping that she was a member of his tribe.

"My name is Gwen, Queen of the unicorn Tribe."

"A queen, huh?" said Sean, clearly disappointed. "I should have been able to guess that from your haughty bearing. Well what brings you so far from your kingdom, my dear queen?"

"One of those scaly dragon-things," she said equaling his sarcasm.

"That's not what I meant. I'll rephrase. Why did it bring you here?"

"Oh , I don't know. It is possible that Tigernmas hopes to get to my father through me. You know, force my father to come get me wage war, try to beat him and win the kingdom. The joys of being royal, "Gwen sighed. "So what brings you here?"

"I am a spy for the Pegasus Tribe. I came here to see what old Dragoneyes was up to, and got caught. I must not be a very good spy though, because that would not have happened to a good one."

"Well, at least you aren't a mass murderer,"Gwen said, "but then again, if you were, you would probably be in Tigernmas' army."

"What made you think that I was a mass murderer?" Gwen pointed to the chains that bound him to the wall of the cell. "Oh, these. This is so that I don't escape. You see, I know a way out of here."

"You know a way out,"Gwen exclaimed,"and you took this long to tell me?"

"Sorry, Your Highness, but I guess the fact sort of slipped my mind after the near death experience I had when the guards caught me trying to escape,"said Sean sleepily.

After making this statement, Sean fell directly to sleep in his upright position against the wall. Gwen did not know how he could sleep like that, but figured that if he could, the she certainly shouldn't mind sitting against the wall. Gwen sat down and fell asleep as well, tired after all she had been through.

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A shrill scream broke the stillness of the night as another helpless victim was offered up to the bloodthirsty God of the Dragonfolk. Trienne, knight protector to Queen Gwen of the Unicorn tribe, winced at the sound and continued on toward the city of Mikell.

Earlier that day Trienne had been out riding when he had seen two dragons swoop down and spirit away Gwen and her Unicorn, Goldie. He had followed them all day to Mikell, the capital city of the land of the Dragonfolk, and home to Lord Tigernmas, the ruthless leader of the Dragonfolk.And now, at the end of the day, when all people who could possibly threaten him were in the temple performing the obscene rights of sacrifice to Mikell, Trienne rode into the city unnoticed.

Upon entering the city, Trienne spotted a seedy looking inn, complete with tavern. This would be the perfect place to get information. A drunken man's lips were not the tightest in the world. Trienne rode up to the inn and got off his unicorn, Cronus.

"I want you to stay right here. Don't let anyone see you okay?" The unicorn snorted and promptly disappeared.

Trienne went into the inn and was met by the owner , who looked as seedy as the inn itself. "We don't want no trouble 'round here," he said suspiciously, eyeing Trienne's gleaming mail shirt and large sword.

"Oh, I mean you no trouble at all, good sir. I was merely searching for the mysteriously magical chicken of Gambu when I happened upon your inn. I have been searching for hours, and having quite exhausted myself, I decided that it was due time to have a few drinks and get a good night's sleep.,"Trienne explained.

"Well if that is all--wait a minute. What exactly is this mysteriously magical chicken of Gambu?"

"You've never heard of the mysteriously magical chicken off Gambu? Have you had your head in the ale jar all your life? This chicken isn't just your common everyday clucker. A magician named Gambu created it so that he might get rich. You see," he said in a conspiratorial tone," the chicken lays jewel encrusted golden eggs. It will keep on laying them forever too, because it is immortal. Say, you look like a good fellow. How's about joining me on this quest?"

"I would if I could, but my inn needs my attention, and my wife would never stand for me running about after a chicken, no matter how magical. Ah well--the bar is on the left. You can take the room at the top of the stairs." The innkeeper went away sighing over the fictitious chicken, and Trienne entered the bar.

Trienne was just through the bar door when he spotted the information source he had been looking for. From the looks of him he was a sergeant in Lord Tigernmas' army. He also happened to be drunker than any proverbial skunk. This man would give him all the information he needed without even realizing that he had. Trienne walked over to the table.

"Excuse me, sir, but could a poor travel weary stranger join you for a mug of ale?"

"Of course. I was starting to get lonely and was wishing that I had someone to talk to," the bleary eyed sergeant said.

Perfect, Trienne thought. This guy was just aching to talk to somebody, and he was aching to listen to somebody. But he said,"So why aren't you at the all important religious observance of the human sacrifices to Mikell? I thought that all loyal Dragonfolk went to them weekly, if not daily."

"Well, this is a bit embarrassing, "the sergeant said, "but I turn sick around the smell of a great deal of blood. And there is almost definitely going to be a very large amount of blood spilled tonight. It'll probably be ankle deep in there. When there is something to celebrate, the priests are most ardent in their worship."

"What is there to celebrate about?, "Trienne asked.

"Everything. Lord Tigernams has captured both the Queen of the Unicorn Tribe, and the Lord of the Pegasus Tribe. Each tribe will think the other did it and declare war on each other. While they're at war, Tigernmas will come in and take both kingdoms. our Lord certainly is a military genius."

"That he is, friend. Well, it's been a long ,hard day for me. I think I'll go to bed now." Trienne gave an exaggerated yawn and went to his room.

Trienne went to bed, but couldn't go to sleep. The shrieks of agony coming from Mikell's temple were enough to wake the dead, let alone keep any of the living from sleep. Since sleep wouldn't come to him, Trienne decided that a plan of action just might.

Trienne got up and began to pace up and down the cramped quarters hat he was lodged in. He just had to get Gwen out of the dungeon. But how? How was he supposed to get past the guards and the dragons? He was a great knight, but somehow he thought that he would not be able to handle fifty dragons, and the men that rode them.

As the first golden rays of dawn burst through the darkness the shrieks from the temple promptly ceased. The bloodbath must have been scheduled to end at dawn, Trienne thought wryly. Soon the celebrants would be leaving the temple, but before that happened he wanted to see if there was any inconspicuous way that he cold enter the castle. Trienne put on a large cloak to hide his chain mail and sword and pulled up the hood. A man with bright orange hair was sure to attract the attention that he did not want.

When he had concealed himself to his satisfaction, Trienne went outside toward the castle to look around. When Trienne saw the castle up close he almost lost hope. The stone walls seemed to soar into infinity, and the glass shards mixed in the mortar crushed any hopes of scaling the walls. There absolutely had to be a way to get in besides the main gate. At least there had been at every other castle he had been to before. Trienne went around to the side to have a look.

"You there," Trienne heard someone shout from behind him, "stop in the name of the Lord!" Trienne turned to see a guard with an evil looking pike running towards him.

"Of course, sir. Whatever you say, sir, "Trienne said, "But please don't keep me long."

"Oh--and why shouldn't I?"

"Well, you see, sir, my mother is very sick. The only thing in the world that can cure her is the life-giving serum enclosed in the egg of the mysteriously magical chicken of Gambu. And you see, sir, I heard a clucking sound coming from this alley, and decided to investigate,"Trienne explained.

"All right, I guess you're okay,"the young guard said. "I hope you find that mystical chicken of Magugu or whatever." Then he turned and left the alley, leaving Trienne alone.

Trienne was about to leave the alley in search of another entrance when he heard a clucking sound behind him. He turned in time to see a magnificent golden chicken lay a beautiful golden egg encrusted with a multitude of rainbow colored gemstones. The chicken clucked invitingly to Trienne, and he bent down to pick up the egg.

When Trienne rose the chicken was no longer there. In its place stood a figure in a gleaming white robe with golden hair and flashing golden eyes. Trienne stood transfixed in shock. Before him stood Ritsao, The God of the Unicorn Tribe. He didn't look very happy.

"Do you absolutely have to keep using that same old chicken story?"he demanded. "You'd think that the knight protector to the queen would have a bit more originality."

"Sorry,"Trienne murmured in an embarrassed manner. "I hadn't any time to think of anything to say."

"That's all right. I'll forgive you this time. Anyway, I came here to tell you that you do not need to rescue Gwen this time. She is doing quite well on her own."

"But when will I be able to go to her?"Trienne asked impatiently.

"The time will be right to go to Gwen when you can walk through the gates of the castle with no trouble from guards, or anyone else for that matter. Oh, and save that egg. I'm pretty sure that you're going to need it," the god said and then vanished as suddenly as he had appeared.

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Gwen awoke to the sound of whistling and saw that Sean was already awake.

"That canít be a very comfortable position,"she said. "Isn't there any way that I can help you?"

"Thanks for the offer, but I don't think...,"he trailed off as he caught sight of the necklace Gwen was wearing. "Wait, that necklace you are wearing might help. Bring it over here, if you will, and we'll see if we can pick the lock."

Gwen brought the necklace over to Sean and began to try to pick the lock. Surprisingly, the locks opened and the chains came off. Sean rubbed his wrists and stretched the cramps out of his neck, legs, and back. "And now to get us out of here,"he said.

"You never did tell me your great plan to get us out of here. It seems impossible."

"I didn't tell you because I was afraid that you would leave here without me." Then seeing the look on Gwen's face, he added, "but I've changed my mind about you. I believe that you can be trusted."

"Thank you, I didn't trust you at first either, but that was stupid. I guess I've held on to my old prejudices too long. Friends?"said Gwen.

"Friends,"said Sean,"and now we shall try to get out. I had another cellmate in here before you. A very ingenious man. He used a piece of broken plate to scrape the mortar from around one of these stones. He then removed it and escaped. The trouble is, I can't tell you which stone it was. It couldn't have been a very large one, for he was a small man, about your size, actually."

"We'll just have to try until we find it,"said Gwen. They tried stone after stone. Finally, when they were just about to give up, they stumbled upon the right stone. It was just big enough for Gwen to get through.

"Go on, now's your chance,"urged Sean.

"What happened to all that talk of you not wanting me to leave without you?" asked Gwen, "and besides, is those guards find out that I've escaped Dan see you unchained, they might hurt you, or kill you."

"Listen to me Gwen. You have to leave now, before those sorry excuses for guards wake up. Besides, "he said, his deep brown eyes taking on a merry glint, "I'm a big boy. I can take care of myself."

"What am I supposed to do? Storm into Lord Tigernmas' castle and demand my unicorn back?"asked Gwen.

"Precisely,"said Sean. "I do have a few weapons concealed on me yet.."

"Wait a minute," interrupted Gwen, "I am a domestically trained queen. I know nothing about warfare."

"I hadn't thought about that, "said Sean , ruffling his blonde hair with a tanned hand. "I guess we'll just have to think of something--wait! You can communicate with your unicorn. That means you must have some psychic abilities. Do you think that you could communicate with me?"

"I guess I could try. How about experimenting right now?"said Gwen. A few moments later, Sean burst out laughing. Gwen heard his voice in her mind.

That has to be the funniest joke I've ever heard in my life. Great, now we know our little plan works. Go now, and if you need help, I will be right here.

"Goodbye, my handsome spy, "said Gwen.

"Goodbye, my fair queen, "said Sean , laughing. Gwen left him there, still laughing.

As Gwen moved through the streets in the center court of the castle she could not help feeling a little nervous. She kept wondering why she was even there. Most of all, she wondered how in the names of all the gods she was going to manage to kill Tigernmas. She said a quick prayer to Ritsao, the god of her tribe, as she fingered the daggers beneath the cloak she wore to conceal the unmistakable blue of her hair. Neither the prayer or the daggers gave her much reassurance.

Then suddenly a voice came into her mind. It was Sean. He said, Hey, don't worry. I'm still here.

I won't, said Gwen, not anymore. Then with the reassuring presence of Sean in the back of her mind, Gwen started again towards the the main dwelling of Tigernmas.

Upon reaching the dwelling place of Tigernmas, Gwen began to search for a side door or window where she could go in unnoticed. After searching for a long while, Gwen discovered that the only way in was right through the main door. Just when she was about to give up and tell Sean that she couldn't do it she saw kitchen servants carrying trays and baskets into the dining hall. This was perfect! She could get as close to Lord Tigernmas as she needed. is she were to serve him his supper. Gwen went into the kitchen, picked up a basket, and followed the servants into the hall.

As Gwen entered the dining hall, a chill swept through her from her spine to the very marrow of her bones. There was so much evil in this place that it was tangible. She figured that since she could read Sean's mind, she should be able to read theirs as well, and did so. She was very frightened afterwards, but a little bit comforted as well. These men served Tigernmas because of the power he held over them, not because of any sense of loyalty or honor. These men possessed neither. She looked around the room and spotted what must be Lord Tigernmas. If his greenish skin and jet black hair had not given him away, his fiery red eyes would have.

Allright, Sean. I'm in. What do I do now?

Do you have a clear shot at Tigernmas?

Yes.

Well did you ever play any sports?

When I was a girl I was very good at many types of 'ball.

Good. Now just pretend that the dagger is a ball, but instead of keeping your eye on the ball, keep it on Old Dragoneyes' throat.

Allright, but what if this doesn't work?

Have some confidence in yourself and it will.

Right,confidence.

Then before anyone could see what was happening, Gwen pulled the dagger from her cloak. Pretending that it was a ball, she threw it with such speed and accuracy that it struck Tigernmas' throat, made a fine slit in it, and continued around the table.

As she looked at all the putrid green blood surrounding herself she realized that not only was she telepathic, she was telekinetic as well. She was moving the dagger with her mind. When all were dead. she could hear the painful roars as the dragons died, without the magic of Tigernmas to sustain them. Just as it was all becoming too much for her, she heard Sean's voice in her mind.

Are you still there?

Yes.

 

Are they still there?

No.

Woohoo! You did it! They're dead every one of 'em! Now come get me out please?

On her way to get Sean out Gwen saw dead bodies lying everywhere. It seemed that without Tigernmas' magic, none of his subjects could live. Gwen shrugged, and went on to the cell.

When Gwen got Sean out of the cell, they went to find their animals. "So how did you find out where the animals were being kept?"asked Gwen.

"I sort of wrestled it out of one of the gaurds," Sean said with a smile.

Gwen smiled too and shook her head. "Sean, "she said,"I love your sense of humor."

"And I love your blue hair,"Sean said,"It matches your eyes perfectly."

Then before she knew it, he was kissing her. After the kiss was over Sean said with sort of an embarrassed air,"Allright, now let's go find our animals. It seems as if we have kept them waiting long enough."

When they reached their animals they were overjoyed. They had been away from them for too long. When Gwen saw his pegasus she was shocked. It was beautiful. Silvery white, with purple underneath the wings.

"That is too fine an animal for a mere spy,"she gasped.

"Surprise!, "said Sean, "You're standing in front of the Lord of the Pegasus Tribe. Sorry, I would have told you earlier, but I thought you would be more likely to believe I was a spy--and I have always thought my title a bit too stuffy."

I like him, said the voice of Goldie.

I do too, said Gwen.

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Since Trienne could not go into the castle yet he decided that the best thing to do would be to wait close by until he could. There was a bar across the street in view of the main gate. Trienne decided to go there.

The Dragon's Claw bar did not look much better than the inn Trienne had recently stayed at, but at least it was in a convenient spot. Throughout the day, Trienne saw all the noblemen of the Dragonfolk pass through the maingate and into the castle.

Soon the gate guards also went into the castle. Trienne thought that now was the time to enter the castle. If he went right now he could enter with the long line of servants bringing food to the banquet. Trienne was almost to the door when he was stopped by a jabbering drunkard in the midst of a talking fit, who needed someone to listen to him. Trienne had the vague idea that he had met this man before, but he didn't know when. Then he saw them, the golden eyes of...

"Ritsao!" he said aloud.

"Of course. I was wondering when you were going to notice. You are a bit thick witted sometimes for a knight. And now is absolutely not the time for you to enter the castle. Something important is going to happen, and if you go now you could mess things up considerably."

"Well what's going to happen?"Trienne asked. As soon as the words were out of his mouth all manner of shrieks, screams, and shouts could be heard coming from the castle.

"That,"Ritsao said. He waited until the screaming stopped and then simply said,"Now," and disappeared.

That was all Trienne needed. He rushed out the doors of the bar and didn't slow his pace until he was inside the castle. When inside the castle he stared in wonder at the dragons lying dead on the ground. Since their lives were linked with that of Tigernmas, that would mean that he would have to be dead as well.

Trienne then found the large dining room and looked inside. Everyone in the room lay dead, their throats slit and spilling green blood on the floor. Tigernmas stared in horror out of unseeing eyes at the head of the table. Who could have done this? Certainly not Gwen alone, but then again, one could never be sure. Trienne turned away from the carnage and went in search of Gwen.

He found her in the stables, standing beside her unicorn, Goldie. Beside Goldie was a great white pegasus with a royal purple color under its wings. Beside the pegasus was a young man with sandy blonde hair and brown eyes.

"His name's Violet," the man was saying about his pegasus.

"Violet?" questioned Gwen. "That's a very strange name to call a male."

"I named him when I was about three years old. At that time I had no idea that you shouldn't name a male pegasus Violet. He, however, is never going to forgive me for naming him so far below his dignity." They started laughing, but stopped when Trienne walked up to them.

"Trienne!" Gwen exclaimed. "How did you know where to find me?"

"I was out riding when I saw you being carried off. I followed behind the dragons. They are very easy to spot. I would have come sooner, but Ritsao told me that you were okay."

"Ritsao? He came to you?" At that point Sean, who had been feeling a bit confused, coughed politely in order to be noticed. "Oh, I almost forgot. Trienne, this is the Lord of the Pegasus Tribe. Sean, this is Trienne, my knight protector."

Trienne and Sean shook hands. Trienne asked about all that had gone on in the castle. Gwen and Sean told him alternately of their experiences, and how Gwen had killed a whole roomful of men, including Lord Tigernmas, by controlling a dagger with her mind. Finally Trienne said" I guess Ritsao was right when he told me that you were doing fine."

"Well, I wasn't all alone, Trienne," Gwen said while putting her arm around Sean. "I had Sean here to help me, after all."

"Yes, that you did,"Trienne said. But his thoughts were troubled. The two of them were quite obviously in love, and while he had no prejudices against the Pegasus Tribe, but there were other people who did. He hoped no trouble would come from their inevitable union.