Yesterday was the first really warm day that either of us could remember since before my prince came… And, we did spend the afternoon down at the pond, and I did bask in the warm sun most of the afternoon. Well, prince enjoyed every bit of that, and even spent some of the afternoon on his side next to me, with his nose right next to mine. We enjoyed the warmth, and I think we enjoyed looking at each other. I think we both could have easily done more, together, well with each other. Prince was still trying to take that aspect slow, and I appreciated that. We needed the time to be good for both of us. Of course, we both knew it would be amazing. Prince was adamant that it be amazing for both of us. I suspected it would happen soon!

Still, after we lost our direct sun, it cooled off pretty fast, and we decided to head back to the house. Prince refilled our water bucket from the pond, then carried it as we headed back home. We stopped and ate dinner on the way; grass and oats were springing up already. Flowers were too. Spring is just a pretty time of the year, trading a blanket of white over dead plants, for the spreading green growth of new life. Prince and I welcomed that since neither of us like the cold. We had found ways to endure it together, but we both preferred other seasons besides winter.

Once inside, I curled up in our room. That nice cushion of dead leaves still felt very nice, much better than the dirt underneath. When we could, we still kept adding leaves. And my old coat was along one wall. We had used it as a blanket a time or two, but since our precious friends in town had made us both new coats, and gave us a nice big blanket… As I expected, prince laid on his belly behind me, then curled his body around mine as much as he could. I think we both appreciated that. Well, I know he… We were both soon asleep.

Still early in the morning, I woke up. Well, I just couldn’t sleep. This was all new territory to me, being married to my prince for just months. I was really not sure why I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it was me appreciating the sun on my stallion, well yesterday afternoon. Maybe it was warmer in the house, since it was warm yesterday. Maybe it was something else. It didn’t matter. I slowly picked my head up and just looked around. Prince was still behind me, curled around me. I felt that.

“Hello precious” he said softly, then he touched my nose with his. He didn’t move it away. My mind went blank, and I just savored that. “I can’t sleep. Can we go for a walk?” he asked quietly. I got up, and we were quickly outside. It was actually cooler out here. But maybe that wasn’t the only reason. We both started walking down towards the pond, without needing to ask what the other wanted. The moon was high and mostly full, and the path was still easily discernable. Well, the meadow looked very pretty, in the hushed slightly blue light of the moon. Whatever we did on our walk, we would be easily able to see.

We walked slowly down to the pond, and prince sat facing it, and of course, I sat right next to him. We both sighed at the same time. Without even talking, we both bent our heads slightly towards each other, and the tip of our Unicorn horns touched. We hugged like that for a while. And, the longer we stayed like that… I was hoping… We had been waiting…

“It is time, Stallion?” I asked quietly. I was smiling so big, and couldn’t stop.

Prince shivered, then answered “Oh, princess…” then shivered again. Then I shivered.

“Prince, why are we shivering. I am not cold at all…” I asked slowly.

Prince smiled, and leaned up against me, and used his magic to pull me to him, to pull me close. “Princess, you are so beautiful, all of your body. And I gather that you think I am, all of my body is very handsome, too. I think that is why we both are shivering.” I don’t know how well my Stallion was even thinking. This made little sense. Then he put his nose right next to mine AND touched the tip of his Unicorn horn to my Unicorn horn. We both shivered again.

“Maybe it is time…” he said softly…

It was quiet for a little while. We both shivered more…

Out of nowhere, a monstrous, hideous roar shattered the quietness of the night, and tore past us. We stopped shivering…

[The background music changes immediately (2).]

Prince looked in the direction of that terrible sound, and it was quiet. “North” he said quietly.

He was still looking in that direction, still silently concentrating, probably trying to sense… “Magic… Unicorn magic…” he added quietly. “Princess, we should really go, see if we can help…”

“Prince, I will follow you anywhere” I replied quickly. “Lead the way. Just don’t run too fast, the sun works better than the moon.”

Prince walked fast, but it was still easy for both of us to see where we were going. I followed him. The closer we got, the louder that awful roar became… It was very loud… And the sky to the east was starting to glow. It would be morning soon. Closer… Closer… I could see the glow from the monster; a dull orange brightly lit up the sky. Trees were obscuring his form though, I couldn’t see that. But we were very close.

Prince slowed, then led me behind a scraggly oak tree. He quickly said this. “The magic I’m sensing is huge… If we venture further, we may die…”

“Prince, if we can help–” I started to say.

Interrupting me, prince shouted loudly “DOWN” and used his magic to push my back, my body tightly to the ground. Some sort of things, many things, whistled past very fast. A number of them thudded loudly into the tree in front of us. As much noise as they made…

Prince said right away… “Oh, no…” He got up, then yelled “Quickly princess, follow me…” He ran, I followed… The growing sunrise off to the east gave us more light.

Well, it was dead, whatever it was… It was smoldering… It looked like a GIANT tiger or something, with two heads… That pale orange glow was greatly diminished… And, it looked like the entire top of his body was blasted away… It just lay there, heads still, sprawled on the ground, smoking, slowly glowing dimmer and dimmer… Even with the top half of his body blown off, his jagged carcass was still taller than the surrounding trees…

We walked as close as we dared, then just stood and stared…

Prince heard it first, and ran quickly. Of course, I followed him. A mare was crying… When we were close enough…

“Oh, please… no…

“My precious stallion…

“True friend, this can’t be…

“I need him… We need… you… We need your help…”

After a pause…

“Oh my shysage…”

Then she just cried…

Prince didn’t stop, and ran right up to the two horses. The larger one, a stallion, wasn’t moving, at all… This was probably bad… And I quickly remembered the sound of large rocks or something hitting the tree as Prince held me low… I gasped… “Oh, no…” I said quietly.

Using his magic, prince had the stallion carefully up right away, still laying on his side, just like he was when we found him. He said quickly “Princess, get the mare to the house. I have to run this stallion there before its too late…” Then prince, that stallion, they were gone.

The mare was still crying, almost hysterical. I tried… “My stallion is carrying your stallion to our house past the closest hills. We need to go there too…” It took a while for this to even sink in I think. Then she looked up slowly as she cried. “Miss, can you walk?” I asked quietly.

Almost too feathery to understand… “My stallion jumped on me… covered me from that…” she started crying hard again. “One of my front legs is hurt…” Then she just cried, as she lay there on the ground…

I didn’t even have a chance to practice this… But I guess… Well, I had to do this… I had to get her up and on my back… I wasn’t about to leave her here… And if the situation was reversed, I would want to be with prince, no matter what… It took a few tries, but I finally got her up on my back. “Grab my neck and hold on tightly” I said quietly. Even though crying, she did that. I just started walking… Then I tried to use my magic to hold her there… Wow, this was new… But I guess, it was working…

We walked past the carcass of that terrible monster, then I looked in the direction I thought I should head. I didn’t want to walk around all day and get lost… Then I saw the spire of the castle, south, shining with the glint of the morning sun from the east. The castle spire, that was the direction I needed to go… I started walking… The mare was light, she was small like me, maybe even a little smaller, I don’t know. Carrying her was not a problem. She was crying softly now. She was depending on me to take her to her Stallion. I walked carefully, and headed for the spire…

Some time later, I passed the pond. The sun was coming up and I had plenty of light. Up the path, and the door was open. As soon as the mare saw her stallion she tried to jump off my back. Prince was standing just past the stallion, and quickly caught the mare, and gently put her down with her head next to the stallion’s head. She was crying hard again right away. “Oh, my Shysage… Oh, my precious Stallion…” The stallion still hadn’t moved at all… And I now saw… Prince had grabbed my old coat from our room, and forced it down over the body, the sides of this stallion… And there were many round blood stains from numerous spots in his skin, all over…

“Prince, I should run into town and…” I started to say this, as almost a dozen horses ran quickly up… One was the town Doc, the same one who had looked prince over. He walked right in. But my magic teacher, all my amazing real friends, they were also there… A few ran quickly in, and were hugging the mare, I don’t know. Everyhorse was crying…

The Doc said quickly “This mare needs to move. And I need a fire in the fireplace.” As other mares backed away, prince quickly moved the mare to the other side, but so her head was next to her stallion. I took care of putting two logs in the fire, and getting both going. All this time, the Doc was, probing I guess. “Wow, 37 of ’em… This will take a while…” He paused briefly, then said quickly “I need every Unicorn standing in a line near this stallion’s rump. As I pull each rock out, one of you will need to use your magic to press down on where it was, then count slowly to 500. Once you are done, I will be able to use you on the next one.

“I’ll go first…” I said quietly.

The Doc pulled a sharp knife out of his bag, then made a vertical then a horizontal cut over each growing blood stain. He cut through the coat, and surely into the skin… The stallion cried out in pain each time, each cut… “Somehorse hold him down please. He needs to sit still…”

“I’ll do that Doc” prince said quietly. Well prince was probably the best one for that…

After making the first cut, the Doc used his magic to carefully reach in and pull out the first rock… It was still smoking, and the stallion cried loudly as the Doc pulled it out… The Doc threw the rock into the fireplace right away. “First Unicorn, press NOW, count slowly to 500, and keep pressing. DON’T STOP PRESSING or it will bleed madly.”

“Ok that’s me.” I pressed, I held the pressure, I counted slowly… I had to ignore everything else. Well, the stallion’s Mare was beside herself, and my quiet friend was quickly laying behind her, hugging her. That seemed to help.

The Doc cut the next two cuts, again, the stallion cried loudly. “Who’s next?” he asked quickly. “My turn” my pretty new friend said. Then the Doc pulled the rock out, still sizzling, and threw it into the fireplace. The stallion cried loudly as the rock was pulled out… “OK, PRESS, HOLD, COUNT…”

My magic teacher was next… The Doc made two more cuts, pulled the rock out and threw it into the fireplace, press tightly and count slowly to 500…

One of my magic teacher’s adopted daughters was next… The Doc made two more cuts, pulled the rock out and threw it into the fireplace, press tightly and count slowly to 500…

The other of my magic teacher’s adopted daughters was next… The Doc made two more cuts, pulled the rock out and threw it into the fireplace, press tightly and count slowly to 500…

“Doc, I’m ready for the next one…” I said quietly.

“Wow, good timing… We need to hurry up and get these things all out of him…” the Doc said quickly…

Well, it didn’t seem so quick to me… Slowly… One at a time… The Doc used his magic to pull still sizzling chunks of almost molten rock out of this stallion… Some were big, some were jagged… Some were small… Every single one hurt this stallion fiercely as the cuts were made and the rocks pulled out past living flesh… Time just seemed to stand still… I would press, then hold, count slowly to 500, wait briefly for the next wound, press, hold… I think we were all just getting tired. I remember prince saying using magic tires you like physical exercise… I really felt that… And the Doc found four more while taking care of the others. I am not sure how he could tell, but he was the Doc.

He checked the stallion over for any more rocks one more time, then said quietly “As each of you reach 500 just lay down and rest. We have done everything we can.”

The Doc was still looking, checking, and he checked the stallion’s head carefully too. “Wow, he looked away… His neck and head are fine… Amazing…” Before too much longer, all the unicorns were laying down on the floor, exhausted…

I think it was about noon.

My new flying friend came in, out of breath. She had clearly been flying… She said quietly, I think to my magic teacher. “They killed Chard-onix… His carcass is 2 miles north of here…”

My magic teacher blurted quickly and loudly “ALONE?” then “Oh, my goodness….” then “Oh, Summer, this is all our fault… You both should not have had to do that by yourselves…” Then she started to cry… “That is just wrong… Friendship… This is all our fault…” I think all our new friends cried together for a while. And I was beginning to realize that maybe they were already friends of the stallion and mare that prince and I had rescued.

“Summer…” The stallion almost whispered this. “Are you ok?”

The mare was quickly crying loudly again.

“All right, you can move her back…” the Doc said.

Prince carefully moved the mare back to the other side, and she immediately put her head on top of her stallion’s, and the two cried together right away. They cried together for a while.

“Doc, the mare said one of her front legs was hurt, and she couldn’t walk. I carried her here…” I wanted to mention that before he left.

“Well, let’s have a look.” The Doc checked her leg out, and she just ignored him. I was sure her stallion had all her attention just then. The Doc talked to me instead, I guess. “Just a sprain. She needs to stay off of it for a week, then it’l be fine.”

The stallion that we all worked on, then said weakly “Thanks, Doc.”

The Doc looked at the stallion and said seriously “Well, if your Mare had taken many of those rocks, she would never have survived…” A few of my other friends gasped.

The stallion got out weakly “I… Summer…” That was it. He and his mare cried together for a while more.

The Doc said next what we all felt. “I’m tired… An’ I think he will be ok. Just make sure he gets PLENTY an’ I mean PLENTY of water for the next week or two. He should also stay out of water completely for two weeks. Then he will need a bath with soap, and this coat should come off… Well, once he is in the water a while, cut it off slowly and carefully. Don’t let it pull any scabs off.”

The Doc stopped here, and was clearly thinking. Then he said loudly “Who in the kingdom put this puny horse coat on this big stallion?”

Prince stepped up right away. “I did, Doc.” Then he put his head down, probably expecting a scolding.

The Doc looked him over then said quietly “Son, you save his life. He would have lost a lot more blood if you hadn’t o’ done that. Thanks.”

The Doc collected his tools and said “I’ll be back tomorrow to check him out. I need some sleep…” and he was gone.

My magic teacher… “Oh, Summer, this was all our fault…”

They all cried together for while…

[That horrible tune in the background slowly faded away…]

—–

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 copyright 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 tune is from the same collection as “The Divine”; it is the immediately previous track entitled “The Serpentine Labyrinth” and is also copyright by Square Enix.  Dark, foreboding… From her earliest days… Summer must be in trouble…

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

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