I leapt over the boulder, throwing my body at my terrified foal and the evil Being that rode her as if she was a common mare. The sight of her blood, knowing she was in pain, only fueled my rage. Closing in before the Being could react and sting her, I swiped my blade at the bloated abdomen that hovered so close to Colete’s vulnerable body.
The filthy Being was more maneuverable than its bulk indicated. It retracted part of its lower body, avoiding the blade by the barest margin. It screeched, clicking mouth wide, fangs exposed as the black maw and four shining, malevolent eyes fixated on me. “You!”
Not pausing, I sprang from the ground and vaulted over, keeping the sword the focus of those eyes, then swiped out with the claws I’d kept hidden until the last moment. The flesh on the Being wasn’t soft but covered in a hard, dull shell. My claws skidded off the rough surface and my heart stopped, but then they caught in a chink in the armor in the middle of the Being’s back. The momentum of my flip yanked it up, tearing its claws from Colete’s back as I flung it as far from my foal as possible.
Colete screamed in pain, and my heart broke that I had to hurt her. I landed on my feet in front of her. My back was to my baby girl, and I couldn’t turn to check on her. The fucking Being had wings that popped out from under that hard exterior, so it didn’t even hit the ground. Why the fuck was it riding my foal when it had wings?
“So, the useless one appears. Do you know what you cost me?” Its sibilant voice hissed like a snake, the translucent wings flapping so fast they were nearly invisible, but it looked like a giant fucking bug.
What the hell was it?
“What you cost my master?” It gnashed those wicked looking serrated jaws. “You will pay!”
“The trolls? They’re dying or dead,” I scoffed.
“Those oafs were not my master,” it hissed. It whipped its head side to side, but I tracked the movements with my blade, keeping my body between the Being and my family.
“Well you can take a message back to your master. Anyone who was part of hurting my family will die, human or Being. I will end you.” My magic swirled inside me, desperate to be let out, but there was no release, not in this form.
Not the way I needed. All I had were these hands, these blades, and the drive to make the suffering last long and dear to anyone who’d touched my foals. I was a battle unicorn, trained in the art of war and death.
I would end this for their peace of mind, wiping the land clean of the evil taint of those who’d prey on the young, defenseless, and innocent.
“Flee, now, or taste more than the sting of my claws and blade. I will find another way to warn your master death will come on silent feet.” At least this form had stealth going for it.
The Being’s tail end flexed several times, the stinger exposed, as it feinted closer.
“Papa!” Colete screamed. I leapt, not willing to risk it getting past me. Not for the price of a message. It owed her its death.
From a thousand cuts. That would be for me. For Londe. For the pain in our souls, for the guilt.
I swiped at a wing, trying to incapacitate it. Get it down on the ground. Remove that stinger. Cut off the other wing so it would never be able to get away from me. Stab one eye, then another. Cut off a leg. Slice open that bulging belly with those filthy eggs or whatever it held that it had threatened to put inside my baby.
Icy white layered the edge of my vision, and my breath froze inside my chest from one breath to the next. My body was in perfect form, the lunge and strike aimed true… but that nasty bitch screeched and flapped backward frantically, flying away.
“Ahh,” I screamed, enraged. My muscles quivered under the strain of stopping the attack, of not following through with the mental battle I’d already won in my head. “Coward!”
“Papa,” twin cries brought me back. Marces and Colete both rushed me, and I immediately sheathed my knives. They pressed their bodies against me, nuzzling their foreheads against me. Marces leaned against my side, and Colete butted my chest.
“Oh baby.” She was bleeding, and I ripped my tunic off. I wrapped it around her neck, as tight as I dared. Marces was trembling.
“I’m sorry, Papa. I couldn’t stop it. I wasn’t brave like you,” he said.
“You were. You were so brave. You left me signs, you didn’t panic, and when you knew I was close, you used your brilliant, amazing mind to keep yourself and Pater safe so I could focus on getting Colete free.”
“Listen to your papa, Marces.” Londe nuzzled Marces, then Colete. “You both did so good.”
I let him soothe them as I kept an eye on the skies. Colete was hurt, and they were all exhausted. Hell, I was exhausted, but we had to go. “This place isn’t safe,” I said.
‘What do we do? They can barely stand,’ Londe said in my head.
‘I know, but they are strong. They made it this far. Just until I find a safe place.’
‘We should go now, before it gets any later or colder. Where is your cloak?’
“Damnation!” The tiny Being. I patted Marces, stroked the hair away from Colete’s eyes. I was loathe to let them go, or leave their sides for a moment, but I wouldn’t be long or far. “Wait here.”
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