Snowdrop trotted through the forest, enjoying the fresh spring day: the new growth all around him, the flowers blooming in wild profusion beneath his hooves. He loved to run and jump and frolic amongst the blossoms. It was fun – and fun was sometimes hard to be found amongst the stuffy elders of the herd.
His mother, as she always did, had warned him not to wander too far. He had listened. Kind of. He might be young but he wasn’t stupid. He knew all about the dangers that lurked deeper in the depths of the Enchanted Forest. There were many different things that could be a risk for a youthful unicorn such as himself – giants and ogres, the witch and the dark elves, to name but a few.
Today he planned to make his way to the stream that burbled a short distance from the central clearing where the herd made its home. He loved the feeling of the chill water as it splashed around his hooves and fetlocks. As often happened when he was out playing, however, Snowdrop soon became distracted. The flutter of a butterfly’s wings drew his attention and he followed the delicate creature as it moved from flower to flower. He wandered much further afield than he usually did.
Suddenly a weight settled around his neck, pulling him back, pulling him off balance. Snowdrop stumbled and by the time he regained his footing he was captive. A large man towered over him, his thick fingers holding tightly to the rope that had landed around Snowdrop’s neck. He tried to escape. He kicked and twisted and pulled – but he was no match for his opponent.
“Got you!” the man crowed. “What a catch. A unicorn! What a price I’ll get for you.”
“Let me go!” Snowdrop cried, but the man ignored his words as he began to drag him through the forest.
Snowdrop was forced to trot to keep up. Each time he slowed, the rope around his neck tightened uncomfortably until he quickened his steps once more, the man’s long, purposeful strides not hesitating for even a moment.
Up until now Snowdrop had always considered himself to be a brave young unicorn. He had never before been so scared – terror seemed to coil like vipers in his stomach. He couldn’t stop shaking and he stumbled repeatedly as he was dragged after the man.
They seemed to walk for hours. By the time they finally stopped Snowdrop’s head drooped in exhaustion and dejection. He barely even watched where he was going, merely making sure his hooves found relatively secure ground. It was only as the man tethered him to a tree and he realised they had finally stopped moving that he lifted his head to take a look at his surroundings.
They were in a camp set up in a wide clearing. A fire pit with a pile of wood ready for burning was at the centre of the open space. A rough shelter had been lashed together off to one side, long branches bent into shape. Various items belonging to the man were scattered around the space. Looking at the mess and the churned up earth, Snowdrop had a feeling that the man had been living there for some time now.
“Rest up, Unicorn,” the man told him. “Tomorrow we head into town.”
“Why?” Snowdrop asked, but, as earlier, the man did not answer. He didn’t even acknowledge the question. “Please!” Snowdrop begged. “Why are you doing this? What’s going to happen to me?”
It was as the man moved away to build his campfire, still not reacting in the slightest to his words, that Snowdrop came to the realisation that he couldn’t hear him. He could beg and plead all he wanted, but it would make no difference. The realisation shocked him into silence. His legs folded under him and he sank miserably to the ground. He was a prisoner and he couldn’t even talk to his captor to find out what was going to happen to him!
He began to weep, fat tears rolling down his cheeks and dripping to the grass. Knowing that the man couldn’t hear him, he called out for his Mummy as loud as he could, but it was no good. Finally, drained and disheartened, he cried himself into a restless slumber.
This is the beginning of another version of The Lost Unicorn. Version 1 can be found here, version 2 here and version 3 here. This is the first version that is less a story to be told as one to be read – I decided to tell this one using a third person viewpoint and past tense rather than my usual storyteller’s omniscient viewpoint and present tense. It is aimed at 8 to 10-year-olds. I hope you all enjoyed reading.
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Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else’s. Billy Wilder