I think I woke up the next morning before my prince did. My front leg had fallen down in my sleep, and so I slowly gently moved it back around his neck. Then I smiled. Prince’s head was down on his front legs as he slept, so I just held my head up and looked, gazed at the very small fire that was left. It was cool in our home, but prince and I, we were keeping each other nice and warm. I would liked to have put another log on the fire, but didn’t want to try and move to do that. The logs were behind us. I’m not sure how prince does that, uses his magic where he can’t see. Still, I waited as long as I could, letting prince sleep a little more. Then I put my mouth near his ear and whispered gently “Prince, I love you” until he woke up.

He was crying right away. “Oh, princess…” was all he could say as he cried. I was pretty sure he wasn’t upset. But I didn’t know beyond that. My leg, my hoof was already… so I moved it just a little. Prince stopped crying, and made the most amazing new sound. Well, it sounded like contentment to me, I don’t know.

But I had to ask. “Prince, does it bother you when I do that? I will stop if it does.”

The first thing prince said… “My precious Mare…” He was in thought briefly. “I… Wow, there is so much to say. But I think I need to explain something to you first.” It sounded to me like this might take a while. Maybe I was just getting to know this stallion, well my Stallion better. I was on his back, hugging his neck, warm and comfortable. He sighed, then my prince told me an important part of his story.

“I was in advanced magic school at the time. We were supposed to be studying magic in the library. It was a few teachers and a bunch of Unicorn magic students. I was one of those students.

“Somehow… The topic of the converstion ended up at… Well, combining wind and levitation magic carefully… Using their magic, a Unicorn can make a mare feel… very nice…

“I didn’t even have time to make up my mind about what they were describing, the actual magical technique… The conversation quickly became a bunch of bragging about how this stallion could have a mare begging for anything, in very short order… It was mostly our magic teachers… That use of magic was one thing, but it was clear that the Unicorns doing most of the talking were treating, considered other horses, mares, as just toys, to play with, maybe even get what they wanted, then send them away. Both students and teachers ended up very involved in the conversation. I don’t know why, but I was disgusted. Taking advantage of other horses like that, it just seemed so unfair to me. I was pretty sure that was not what Unicorn magic was given to us for. I mean, everyhorse enjoys feeling nice, I think, but to just play with, prey on other horses… I was slowly backing away… I just wanted to run away…

“The librarian, and older Unicorn stallion, I guess he had heard all of this. I think he put up with it as long as he could. Then he came out and said quietly ‘I don’t think that is the best use of Unicorn magic…’ He thought a minute, then added ‘Maybe you should all get back to work.’ Everyhorse else did.

“But that older Unicorn motioned me into his office. Using his magic, he pulled down 5 books, careful studies about the consequences of what those Unicorns had been bragging about. Evidently, this sort of behavior is nothing new among Unicorns, and it had been studied carefully for decades, maybe centuries. He carefully read the concluding paragraph of each of the five books.

“Then he soberly said this. ‘The studies all revealed the same thing. The more a stallion plays around like that, the harder it will be for him to become attached to a life-mare. Everytime a Unicorn does that to another, different horse, he gives a little piece of his contentment away. After a while, contentment becomes difficult or impossible.’ He closed all 5 books, and put them back on the shelf. Then he added quietly ‘To add some practical perspective, I am a good examble… I did that too, for a while. Of course, it was fun… But I guess, I felt what I was losing. I stopped barely in time… My Mare is patient; she has to be, since I lose focus easily, as a result of what I have done in the past. And… she is forgiving too.’ He was quiet briefly. ‘Son, it is just not worth it. I suggest that you wait for your life-mare, and give her everything you can. Save it all for her.’ Then he walked over to his desk and went back to work.

“I walked slowly out of his office deep in thought. Using others like toys, that was surely so unfair. And then bragging about it on top of that… But the information that older Unicorn presented me with…

“Well, right or wrong, I made a few important decisions as a result of that hour or so at the library that day. And I think you need to know this. You are now, or soon will be my life-mare, and a Unicorn at that, a prospect that so thrills me. I don’t think the use of Unicorn magic, or many other means, to be able to give to each other, to help each other feel nice; that is not wrong, it is good.

“But this next is really a committment I have made to myself, and I am right now also making this committment to you. I don’t want to even risk taking from you, or taking advantage of you. I was so revolted by that… their bragging… My committment is that I will do everything in my power to give to you first, physically and emotionally. I don’t mind you doing things to my body that I enjoy, and I suspect you feel the same way. And, honestly, in the last week or two, I have experienced things… new things to me… I don’t claim to know all there is to know. But I… You will always be first in that regard. There may be exceptions, but generally, I will put you first. I will put taking care of you above myself, any and every way I can… I will insist on treating you with respect and honor; I don’t ever want to touch you in a way you don’t want or feel uncomfortable with, especially in this area.”

It was quiet a few minutes after prince finished explaining this. I was still laying on his back, hugging his neck. My head was next to his as I listened. This, what he said, didn’t require a lot of thought, and made a lot of sense. Well, the wondrous new things, maybe we were both realizing that. Even from what little I knew (very little), I realized this was a pretty amazing thing for my prince to do. But I felt he was waiting for some sort of feedback.

I hugged him tightly, well tighter, then said quietly “How did I ever find you…” I really felt that way… For my prince to put giving to me ahead of receiving…

He smiled, and answered quietly “Half frozen on your path…”

We both laughed. But I just had to add excitedly “You will teach me about this magic, right?”

My prince smiled again. “We will learn it together, I think. And I know it will be amazing, for both of us.” He stopped in thought, then added this. “And… I don’t think it will be just magic, either.”

Well, there was probably a lot we would both learn about each other. I just had to say what I felt… “Prince, I can hardly wait…”

Prince rubbed his head against mine. “Oh, princess…” he replied quietly. Then he said “I think we need to talk to somehorse about getting us married though. I think that is the best way to do it.”

I smiled. “All our new friends will want to come, to help.”

“Of course” prince said lovingly. “And maybe they will give you a bath that makes you smell nice again. My last memory of that was trying to find you on the lake…” Well, that was not a good memory, except that prince rescued me.

It was quiet for a while. I think we were both… Our love together was opening so many amazing new doors, new windows in our lives. I think we were both increasingly delighted by the possibilities.

Prince pulled an oat pie over from the stack, broke it in half, and we had some lunch together. Then he brought the water bucket over, and we both drank some water, then he put the bucket back.

For a while, I hugged his neck tightly, we put our heads together, and we just relaxed in front of the fire. It was warm, but with me on prince’s back, we were both warm anyway. It was very comfortable.

Sort of out of the blue… “Prince… Tell me your story…” I said this quietly, but I really wanted to know.

Prince fought back tears, then said as best he could “Are you sure, princess?

“Yes… I want to know my Stallion…” I answered right away.

Prince sighed.

“Well, I grew up in some big city. It was ok, I guess. But I wasn’t the fondest of horses always around, always making noise. It is something you can get used to, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to live like that if I didn’t have to.

“I think my mom and dad loved each other. Well, it was clear they… I was their first foal, and it seemed like my mom was in foal or taking care of a foal since I can remember. Well, our house was small, and my dad quietly made it pretty clear that I had to strike out on my own after I was done with school. I didn’t mind this too much, thats just how things go.

“School wasn’t too bad, either. I was big enough that the bullies usually left me alone. And, with what little magic I was taught, I was quickly quite powerful. That helped the other colts realize they should not mess with me. I could easily defend myself with my magic, without touching anyhorse. But my first Unicorn magic classes… I guess I got my first taste there. Privately, it seemed that the Unicorns around me had a real… Maybe arrogance would be too rough a word, but it was just a veiled air of superiority, maybe. Granted, I quickly learned that Unicorn magic can make a lot of life easier. And Unicorns can do things that other horses simply cannot. But I found no justification for the whispered gloatings and such that I increasingly heard. Well, I picked all magic up quickly. That was levitation magic to begin with because teaching yearling Unicorns other types of magic was obviously not a good idea.

“I was always led through advanced magic studies after that first year of school. I spent a lot of time with very competent Unicorns, and they taught me a lot, and my magic grew quickly. They also realized that I had a lot of magical potential, and I guess they let Unicorns working for the city know. But the more I learned magic, the more time I spent around other, stronger Unicorns… It was clear to me that my teachers keenly felt they were superior. I heard stories about Unicorns undermining other horses, just because they weren’t Unicorns. Well, soon enough, I discerned this constant, silent struggle among each other, Unicorn against Unicorn, doing what they could, whatever they had to, just to get ahead, get that higher position, land that perfect for a day job, or whatever. Unicorn would shamelessly step on another Unicorn to achieve their ends. Any sense of working together was just a front, and everyhorse constantly had to watch their own backsides, because nohorse around them was really their friend, regardless what anyhorse said.

“The Unicorns from the city snagged me when magic classes, when school was done. They still kept me in magic studies, but with their Unicorns. And, by this time, my dad was hinting that they needed the room at our house for another foal. Again, I love my mom and dad. I had no intention of hanging around. The responsible thing was for me to head out and find my life. Besides, one of my magic teachers accidentally let it slip that I was being groomed for a very special magic post within the operation of the city, and it included my own house. This all sounded great. And the city Unicorns, those teaching and instructing me, they were all on board with me getting this amazing appointment. They focused me on Fire and especially Levitation spells. They discretely hinted that I had a LOT of latent Levitation magical ability, and that would serve me well on this new job. I should have wondered why they didn’t want it, if this post was so good. But I guess I never thought that far ahead, and seemed pleased with where I was headed.

“One day, late in spring, all these devoted Unicorns around me, led me to my new house, heaping praise and compliments upon me on the way. They led me inside. It wasn’t a mansion, but I didn’t expect that. It was just a single room, with a few open windows, a fireplace, and all the oat hay and water I wanted, they jovially said. Then they all left. This didn’t seem like much of a job, but an official looking, large stallion (who was not a Unicorn) walked in, looked me over, then sighed. ‘Hoof stamp here…’ I did. ‘…and here, and here…’

“Then he said this. ‘Keep the fire going, no matter what the weather, immediately unload any garbage wagons that come, and start the junk on fire after you dump it over the wall, and keep the garbage cleaned up around the wagon lane.’

“I stared incredulously, and said ‘What???’

The city official sighed again. ‘They didn’t tell you… figures… Kid, you are the city dump tender. You live here, every second of every day, pick up and dump any wagons that get pulled in here, no matter how heavy, and keep everything burning. You do get unlimited food and water, and the use of this house. Under no circumstances should we ever find a door across this entrance to the house. You need to be able to go out and dump wagons whenever they come in.’

“I still stared incredulously, and said ‘How???’

” ‘Kid, you just signed on for a year. If you leave at any point before that, you will be taxed heavily for the remainder of your year, and we will make absolutely sure you never get any job here in this city, ever again. Of course, they didn’t tell you any of that, did they?’ He stopped and thought a minute, then added ‘Kid, you can never trust a Unicorn…’

“Well, I tried at that job… I did my best… During the summer months, the stench was so bad… I couldn’t close; there was no way to close any of the windows. I choked down smoke and fumes most of the time… This city generated a LOT of garbage. And some of the junk wagons were so heavy… I actually had to strengthen my magic before I could get them dumped… And a few wagons, I just propped up against the wall next to the junk, and used my magic to pull stuff out, and throw it over… And there was no way to go to the bathroom except to climb over into the junk, and hope I didn’t burn a hoof…

“And when it started getting cold… I could start a fire in the fireplace easily enough, there was plenty of coal, but with a room lined with windows and a door that couldn’t be closed… Part of me would be blistering hot facing the fire, but the rest of me was shivering… And wagons did literally come through at any time. I would just about get to sleep, and a wagon would come in… ‘Dump Tender’ the pulling stallion yelled. That was me and I had to go quickly get the junk out of the wagon, into the pit, then start it on fire… That last part didn’t work so well in the rain…”

Prince had slowly and calmly recounted all of this. But I was crying by this point. This explained a lot about prince’s initial attitude about Unicorns. And this all was so hidiously unfair… Prince continued.

“The first snow, and I was done… I sat in the corner close to the fire freezing… I… something broke… I was dying inside being here, doing this, all because a bunch of Unicorns had lied to me, played me for a fool, just to get me to do what they wanted… A wagon came in right then, and I went to dump it; it was mostly full of solid ice, and it was too heavy for me to even pick up…

“Snow still falling, I took off galloping… I found the first road out of that city and just ran… and ran… and ran… I ran around any big city in my path… I was so fed up with ANY Unicorn… All they had done was ruin my life… I just wanted away… from ALL Unicorns… I ran all night, most of the next day… That night, as it snowed heavily, I dropped in some field, exhausted… I couldn’t take another step…”

Prince paused, then added quietly “I woke up two days later in your house, blind… I think you know the rest…”

I was crying hard by this point, and I said through my tears “My hornfire vision was of you, that night, huddled in the corner next to a raging fire… shivering… crying…”

I think my prince needed us to hug. He asked if he could set me down from his back, and he had this quickly done. We sat facing each other, one leg around the other’s neck, head next to head, and we cried together for a long time. I think prince was overwhelmed that he had collapsed in my meadow, and that I just happened to find him before he died. I was overwhelmed because he had found his way here, to me…

When it was very late, prince put another log on the fire, laid on his belly with his hind legs to the side, and I laid on my belly right next to him the same way. Prince used his magic to gently pull me as close to him as possible. Heads next to each other’s, we cried a while more, then fell asleep like that.

————–

1. The Background Music for this entire story is entitled “The Divine” from the “Forever Today” add-on for the original soundtrack for the “Seekers of Adoulin” expansion for Final Fantasy XI, and is copywritten by Square Enix. Players of FFXI will recognize this tune immediately, and this tune is fitting since a lot of this story takes place in the dead of winter. Please purchase this tune, and play it softly in the background while you read each chapter.

2. This story, “CSR Princess” is vol. 14 of the Chronicles of Summer Rain, and is copyright 2017 by Shysage

 

 

 

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