Keywords: Transformation, Magic
Species: Unicorn
The Princess and the Unicorn
By Wolphin


Natasha had a hectic week and didn't remember her new book until 
Friday evening.  Normally, she would have been out partying but 
after this week, she just wasn't in the mood.  All she wanted to 
do was stay at home and relax.  

"What I need is a good book," she thought.  Then she thought about 
the book she had found in Demetri's second-hand shop a few days 
before.

It took her a few moments to remember where she had left it, but 
then something clicked and she retrieved it from its temporary 
home on the floor between the chair and the telephone.

She turned up the heater and snuggled into the chair to read.  The 
book held great promise.  Thick, leather-bound with gold embossing 
and an ornate seal on the cover.  She was amazed it only cost her 
$12, but she knew Demetri, who owned the store, deliberately 
mismarked books to try and entice more people into the shop.  She 
randomly flicked through a few pages before opening it to the 
first story.

Unfortunately it wasn't what she had in mind.  The first story was 
about an evil king turned into an ogre.  No one of her favourite 
topics.  She skipped to the second story.  This one was a rehashed 
Greek myth about the minotaur.  Still not what she has in mind.  
Natasha idly flipped through the pages, stopping here and there to 
read a paragraph or two.  Still nothing inspired her.  As she was 
turning yet another page, the words "...the Princess swapped hands 
and delivered a distinctly unlady-like left cross to the would be 
assassin and felled him with a single blow."  This was more like 
it.  

She quickly skipped back a few pages to the beginning of the 
story.  It was titled "The Unicorn, the Princess and a Good Left 
Hook."  

"This story was definitely written with me in mind," she thought 
with a grin.  Picturing herself practising her black belt on 
hooded assassins, she settled down to read...

Princess Mysteria was bored.  She could beat her swordmaster 
blindfolded while  holding off her hand-to-hand combat trainer at 
the same time.  The King's master thief had run out of techniques 
for her to learn and her etiquette teacher had left, convinced 
that the Princess was perfect.  The king's advisors had run out of 
advice to give her and she knew the running of the kingdom from 
boarder to boarder.  The Captain of the guard had convinced the 
King to forbid her from training with them after she disabled 
almost an entire squad.  In short, she had nothing to do.  

At this point in time, she was attempting to get from one side of 
the Great Hall to the other without touching the floor.  Something 
she had tried numerous times in the past, but was always 
disturbed.  Today was quiet, with hardly a soul around, much 
better for solo gymnastics.

"It isn't I disliked doing the standard princess things," she 
thought.  "Its just that they're no challenge,  I'm too good at 
them"  

This was true.  She had mastered the art of making tapestries 
before her eleventh birthday.  She was an accomplished lute player 
on her twelfth and knew everything about the affairs of state by 
her thirteenth.  The King was at a loss what to do with her.  He 
couldn't fault her in anyway, so he encouraged her to tackle new 
obstacles whenever she could.  This partially explained why she 
was now hanging from a chandelier in the Great Hall.  

Her first activity was to master the art of hand-to-hand combat.  
Mysteria thought this was a necessary skill, as most of her 
forebears had not died in their beds.  Within a matter of months 
she was regularly beating her instructor.  She began fencing and 
improved her horseriding skills.  Once those were mastered she 
took lessons from the King's personal thief, artisans and chefs.   
Whatever she tried, she conquered in a matter of months.  She was 
now nearing her twenty first year and challenges were looking 
thin.

"What a need is a man," she mused.  She had looked at the 
neighbouring princes, but they didn't have what it took.  Prince 
Alfred almost past out from shock when she showed him how good she 
was with a cross bow.  

She smiled as she remembered the look on her face.

It was just then she heard the noise.  It wasn't a loud noise, it 
wasn't the sound of anything wrong, it just didn't sound like 
anything right.  Cat-like she dropped from the rope she was 
holding and lightly landed on the floor.  She paused for a moment, 
playing the noise over in her mind.  Suddenly realisation shook 
her and she ran to one of the doorways.

Pausing only to grab a ceremonial sword from a suit of armour she 
disappeared into the gloom.  

The passage was full of shadows, but this did not slow Mysteria at 
all.  She knew this passage like she knew all of the castle and 
was unhesitant as she ran across the stones.  Several seconds 
later she slowed and cautiously slid her head around the nearest 
corner.  

It was just as she suspected.  A few metres down the hall was the 
entrance to her father's private office.  Three hooded men stood 
by the entrance and two of his personal guards lay on the floor.  
As she thought, the sound she heard was the sound of an 
unconscious body being stealthily lowered to the floor.  

Within seconds Mysteria had formed a plan of action.  

With a blood curdling battle cry she stepped round the corner and 
launched herself at the attackers.  

Natasha quietly chuckled at the mental picture of Mysteria doing 
her Braveheart impression.

The first two attackers never had chance.  One fell to a 
impressive kick in the groin, the second faired a little better 
and recovered just enough from her knee in the stomach to pass out 
from being hit on the back of the head by the sword pommel.  The 
third man managed to draw his sword.  Mysteria never hesitated and 
met his feeble attack with a bone jarring swing of her own.  While 
their swords were locked, 
the Princess swapped hands and delivered a distinctly unlady-like 
left cross to the would be assassin and felled him with a single 
blow.

She side-stepped his falling body and moved into the room.  A 
fourth man lunged at her with his sword.  She easily parried the 
blow and used her momentum to execute a high kick to his head.  
She didn't even see the man fall, but rather headed straight for 
her Father's desk.  A fifth man arose from behind it as she 
approached and started upon seeing her.  She noticed he wasn't 
dressed like the others.  The Princess strode purposefully towards 
the man, his eyes widened in fear and he muttered something under 
his breath.  Then, with a loud pop he vanished.

"Damn magic user," Mysteria thought and quickly moved to the desk. 

Lying on the floor on the other side was her father, skin pale and 
eyes glazed over.  The acrid smell of spell components still 
lingered in the air.  

Mysteria almost cried as she realised there was nothing she could 
do.  

For the remainder of the afternoon she operated on automatic.  She 
organised the guards as they arrived - making them conduct a full 
sweep of the building for any other intruders.  She then called 
for the King's mage, who arrived and confirmed that it was indeed 
a spell and a powerful one at that.  

Luxtor, the mage was a close friend of the Princess and quickly 
deduced she was more deeply affected than the others realised.  To 
help ease her pain he invited her back to his laboratory as he 
analysed the spell.

Mysteria enjoyed Luxtor's lab and regularly visited it.  She had 
often tried to convince him teach her magic, but her refused 
saying that she was too young to learn.  It was one of the few 
areas where she was not skilled.  She sat numbly on a chair as he 
began consulting thick texts and running tests.  She was vaguely 
aware of him mumbling to himself.

"... Um that's interesting, I wonder if...", seemed to be one of 
his favourites.  Along with "Yes, I thought so".

Natasha smiled at the thought of the bumbling wizard as it 
reminded her of the way Demetri behaved when he was searching for 
an obscure reference in an even more obscure book.

Eventually, Luxtor lent back on his stool.  

"I've got it", he said triumphantly.  "But its not good."

Mysteria snapped out of her daze.  "What?" she said.

"I know what the spell is," Luxtor repeater.  "And how to counter 
act it."

"How?" 

"Well, the spell is too complicated for me to lift," he began.  
"And indeed, I doubt any human could remove it successfully.  Who 
ever this man was, he must of been good."

Mysteria listened to him continue to mumble about what the other 
mage must of done, before interrupting with "But you said you know 
how to counter it."

"Oh, yes.  Countering it is not a problem.  Quite easy in fact," 
the mage said.

"Well...?"

"Well," Luxtor began slowly.  "All you need is a unicorn to remove 
the magic from his body."

"What!"

"A unicorn." Luxtor explained.  "Everyone knows how a unicorn's 
horn can be used to remove poison.  Well, it can also be used to 
remove certain types of magic.  The magic used on your father is 
similar to a slow acting poison, therefore a unicorn should be 
able to remove it quite easily."

"So," began Mysteria.  "You're telling me all I need to do is get 
a unicorn in here?"

"Essentially, yes."

"Not a problem," she replied.  "Where does one find themselves a 
unicorn around here."

"Hold on my dear," protested Luxtor.  "It isn't that simple.  
Firstly, you do not find a unicorn, it finds you.  Secondly you 
need to be deserving and not motivated by other means.  Although, 
in this case I believe that you and your father are both 
deserving."

"So, where's the problem," she replied.  

"Um... yes... well," faltered the ageing mage.  "I see your point.  
And I see you have made up your mind and since I know you, I also 
know that you can not be stopped.  You go and rest now and I shall 
inform the advisors of your decision."

The Princess smiled triumphantly, then felt the burden of the day 
wash over her.  She bid Luxtor goodnight and made the way to her 
bedroom where she was soon asleep.

Back in New York, Natasha who by now, was sympathetic to the 
Princess's cause, bid Mysteria a silent goodnight.

When the Princess awoke the castle was alive with activity.  The 
Captain of the Guard offered her his best squad to escort her.  
She politely declined saying that she could travel faster on her 
own and he begrudgingly agreed.  Her mount, Brutus, was ready and 
waiting by the castle gate, Luxtor offered her a few words of 
advice and she urged her horse out of the gate and began her 
quest.

Luxtor told her she probably would not need to go far, not to take 
any risks and that finding the unicorn would mean being in the 
right place at the right time.  With this in mind, she directed 
Brutus off the path and into the forest.  The first day they 
travelled away from civilisation, not worrying about a final 
location.  Just before nightfall they came across a slight 
clearing, with a small stream trickling along one side.

"This looks like as good a place as any," said Mysteria to Brutus.  
"We'll camp here."

With the light fading, she quickly established a small camp and 
had started a small fire going.  She tethered Brutus to a nearby 
tree and settled down to a meal and then prepared her bed for the 
night.  

Sometime after midnight she suddenly awoke.  Something was not 
right.  Wide awake now, she stared around the dimly lit clearing 
wondering what she hear.  Then without warning there was a 
terrible roar.  Brutus gave a whinny of terror and fell to the 
ground.  With a shock Mysteria realised some beast was attacking.

In her living room Natasha give a sudden yelp as a cramp struck 
her leg.  With a start, she realised she had been sitting in the 
same position for over an hour and her body was complaining.  
Laying the book on the table, she stiffly stood up and began 
massaging her leg.  Things were not going well for the Princess.  
The beast had delivered the horse an almost certain blow and was 
now heading for the princess.  She tried to take up a defensive 
position, but the beast was enraged and powered through her sword 
play.

Natasha feverishly read through the lines of text detailing the 
ensuing battle.  The princess was quick and skilled, but the beast 
had the stamina and strength, eventually the princess began to 
falter.  Mentally skipping ahead, Natasha began to wonder when the 
unicorn would show up.  There wasn't much of the story left and 
things were looking grim.

At the same time, she continued to massage the cramp.  It had 
slackened off somewhat, but was still quite noticeable.  In fact, 
not her other calf muscle was also beginning to hurt.  She pulled 
up her training pants to have a close look.  Everything looked 
fine, but it was really hurting now.  Not painful, but very 
noticeable.  She continued to massage the area.  Then, with a 
shock she realised her wrists and fingers were beginning to 
stiffen.  She held up her hands for a closer inspection and as she 
watched, her fingers fused together into two distinct halves.

Somewhat alarmed by this, she looked at herself in the mirror on 
the wall.  On her forehead there was a noticeable white lump 
forming.  As she watched in silence, it grew and twisted into a 
single, white straight horn.  Once the horn stopped growing, other 
changes ran through her body.  

Her hands finished forming into cloven hooves as did her feet.  
Her legs reshaped themselves and she fell forward onto her newly 
formed front legs.  Her neck and stomach grew, then her face 
pushed itself forward , moving her eyes to the sides.  Her ears 
slid up her head and a tail grew from her rapidly reforming back.  
Finally, a fine layer of white hair grew all over her new body and 
it was complete.

For a few moments a somewhat bewildered unicorn stood in a New 
York apartment.  Then one of the walls shimmered and faded away, 
revealing a darkened forest.  Without hesitating, the unicorn 
stepped forward into its realm.  Nearby, the sounds of a dying 
battle could be heard.  Somehow the unicorn knew that someone was 
in need of its assistance.

Mysteria has almost given up all hope.  Her head was bleeding from 
repeated blows  and her body felt as if a tree had fallen on it.  
The beast was also bleeding, but continued to fight with inhuman 
strength.  Suddenly, and without warning, the sound of a horse's 
battle cry rang out.  

The beast stopped in its attack of the Princess and turned around.  
Behind it was the most beautify thing Mysteria had ever seen.  On 
a slight ridge over looking the camp site, a unicorn was rearing 
and pawing the air.  Its horn radiated a brilliant white, 
illuminating the clearing.  The beast took one look and ran off in 
the opposite direction.  

The unicorn dropped onto all fours and pranced into the clearing.  
The light from its horn dimmed, but did not go out.  It first 
approach Brutus and dipped its horn to his forehead, as Mysteria 
watched, his wounds closed and healed, not even leaving a scar.  
The unicorn the approached the Princess.  Standing in front of 
her, it paused for a moment, then slowly it dipped its horn to her 
forehead.

Mysteria gasped as the healing magic flowed through her body.  Her 
wounds closed and the bruises disappeared.  She felt incredibly 
calm and relaxed, but invigorated at the same time.

The unicorn let Mysteria sit for a moment, then spoke directly 
into the Princess's mind.  "Come child, I believe your father 
needs my assistance."  With that it turned and with Mysteria 
following, began to walk to the castle.

Back in New York, the scene of the forest faded as the unicorn 
left the clearing and slowly solidified back into a solid wall.  
The open book on the table suddenly flipped shut and the seal on 
the cover began to glow.  With a soft pop and a small flash of 
light it disappeared...




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Sheep go baa; Cows go moo.