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Golden Unicorn

Ruth Nestvold and the late Jay Lake, both multiple award-winning authors, wrote these tales together. Please check out other tales in their series at Tales of the Rose Knights.
The Rose Knight known as Golden Unicorn was a creature of field and forest, flowing across the mountain slopes as fire flows across the stubbled fields of autumn. She was born in the misty hills of the Farmost West, raised among the simple nut farmers of Chemeketa, bound to the service of no man nor spirit save her own will and the glories of those mountains. Her coat was the brown of polished walnut burl, and the horn upon her head glinted sunset gold.
The relationship between unicorns and virgins is storied past the point of recognition, but the question of unicorn virginity is another matter entire. The Golden Unicorn had spent her youth dancing around the attentions of stallions and lusty lads alike, preferring to hold her heart--and body--for whatever the future might bring. Thus she arrived at adulthood with distant dreams and little grounding in the ordinary mechanics of pleasure.
And so she dwelt at the center of her power, crackling with potential but with no grounding for her fulfillment. In time she left the Farmost West to find adventure and service in the Kingdoms of the East.
Through those years princes and wizardlings and tanned soldiers all wooed her without success. In her twenty-fourth summer, the Golden Unicorn chanced to find love in the form of a sad-eyed poet of middling years and middling appearance. He was tired, ill, and heartsick from his seasons upon the road, but his stories of the Roaring Desert and the nightstorms on the Sea of Pennies entranced her. The poet woke to her beauty and gave her names which greatly pleased her secret heart, though she denied him again and again and guarded her virginity close.
As such things always end, they parted ways, but he had shown her that the sword of words could be as sharp as a sword of steel, and how a mind prepared could best a body muscled. So she took those learnings to the Farmer-Entelechiast who even then was beginning his great work in the Hill Gardens, and there swore service to the bright-leaved future of his vision.
In time she became the Golden Knight, and her deeds were sung far and wide. She never saw the poet again--he went to a distant, shallow grave to be gnawed by wolves, his dying words unrecorded--but he lived forever in her heart. Her sword won her lands of her own, and her words built her honor of her own, and she swore that ever she would foster the wordsmiths and quiet children that others might grow into the power of voice.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

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