A/N: I live! Man, that was an awful vacation. Technically, I only had fun for the first half of it which is more or less why I've been so late with this one-shot. I was so distraught by the second half of my 'vacation' that I wrote seven pages on my views of humanity today as a species. Let's just say that I don't take much pride in humans. Animals are definitely more trustworthy. Anyways, enough about my sociopathic ways and onto addressing today's one-shot species: Unicorn. I seriously could've done this chapter in a single afternoon, but between betareading for 3 authors, working on the Dullahan story, and watching YouTube videos, this series hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. You all certainly have kept interest going at a strong pace that I feel ashamed for all of the goofing off that I've done in these past...*checks calendar*...two weeks. I can't thank you all enough for the ongoing support you all are showing me, so let's just say that I'll hold another poll at the end of this series that is very similar to the first one that I held at the end of the first one-shot collection. Don't worry, though, the end of this series is still a long ways away. Let's finally dig into another thrilling one-shot!
Each day, thousands come to fill the seats of the church to enjoy the 'spectacle' that I must perform. Everyone from the average person to the most decorated soldier comes eventually, either today or tomorrow. They all cheer as I step out onto the stone floor.
"Punish! Punish!" They chant as I slowly approach the alter, or more specifically, the alter-beast.
Another full house this morning, and another group of officials waits for the show to begin. Oh Lord, I'm sorry for everything I've done thus far and for everything that I'm about to do from now on. Why can't we just treat each other as equals instead of eternal enemies? If the people simply interacted with these monsters in a civilized manner instead of a violent one, then both sides would realize the similarities between them...
I look upon the captive monster chained to the floor, feeling waves of remorse washing over me for having to imprison her for hardly any reason at all except for her very existence as a monster. I can see the pleading in her eyes as my steps register in her furry ears. The horn protruding from her forehead used to be white and clean, but now has grayed from pain. Silver hair has dulled to a sharp gray which makes me cringe inside. Her lower body is supposed to be that of a pale golden horse, yet looks closer to a brownish color. For three years, this Unicorn has been contained within my church and she has all but lost her remarkable optimism for life. She is a wondrous creature with an air of absolute purity around her, but I am forced to 'purify' her monster blood every day in front of the excited crowds. Personally, I rather respect her race for their generous attitudes and powerful healing magics, but I doubt that I can be forgiven for what I am about to do.
The crowd quiets its banter as I reach one hand into my coat pocket and find the item I need, the Chief God's Bible. This holy book of my faith holds all of its core principles, many of which I often ponder from time to time. My other hand receives a gold cross that symbolizes the Order and all of the Chief God's followers. With both items in hand, I start the ceremony with a firm and commanding voice.
"My friends, we have all gathered here once again to rekindle our faith to our Lord and remember who we are as a people. This beast kneeling before me is but one example of the blight that has been cast upon our world by the shadows that work to oppose the light. I stand before you today not as a priest, but as a fellow member of the Human race who wishes for us to be united against this treat that dares to war against us! May the Chief God bless us all and pass holy retribution upon those that would threaten the peace given to us!"
After my last few words, I kneel on one leg and bring the book to my forehead with the cross held high as I invoke a silent prayer. At first I used it for all of the people in the crowd, but now I just use it for myself and the poor creature in front of me in hopes that she will eventually escape this hellish ordeal. I rise from my prayer and deeply press the cross against the Unicorn's cheek, cringing internally at the searing sound that echoes through the church as the Chief God's blessed power descends upon her. The crowd's cheering drowns out her screams of pain, but those same pleading eyes are still directing themselves towards me as I stare back with remorse.
Evening is setting in now and with it, my 'congregation' leaves as I close the church to all visitors for the night. Turning back to the Unicorn in chains, I gently rub the imprint that the cross made that morning with a nervous hand. I can't even look at her face for all that I've done to her since her initial capture. She's breathing now, but I can't imagine how much longer it will be before the torture shatters her mind or even kill her. These nights are the only solace I can give her, and although I constantly suggest that I can set her free, she never accepts the offer. Even now, she just looks at me with warm, comforting blue eyes as I apply some medicine to her injuries. It perplexes me that she refuses to leave this church, but I can't force her to do something she doesn't want to. I also notice that she recently has started to stare at me with hazy eyes from time to time. I think it's due to the repeated torture, but some feeling tells me otherwise.
"...There. You should be able to heal the rest of the pain in time. I'm sorry for doing this to you. If you still want to leave, I always have the key with me." I bow my head low, hoping that she will finally say yes.
"I don't want to leave yet, not while you are still being forced to do these painful things." Her voice is full of concern, but she's missing the point.
"I'm not in any immediate danger right now. You are the one about to lose your life one of these days, and probably by my hand. Do you have any idea how much it kills me inside when I have to hurt you everyday?" I take the key out of my pocket and remove the chains around her wrists.
"You don't have to do this for me every night. I'm fine with my confinement knowing that you are a benevolent host." She stands up unsteadily, but I catch her before she collapses.
"I understand that, but it's not right for me to start a prayer without you. We may have different deities, but it's our shared faith in them that lets us have these moments every night. Please, join me in prayer again tonight."
I shuffle towards the inner sanctum of my church with the Unicorn in tow, holding her by the waist as she leans against me for support. She glances at me happily as I move us through the doorway, finally feeling safe now that we can be ourselves without any worries. I guide us to the empty alter that I made here and set her down in a comfortable spot next to me. With a few deep breaths, my true prayer is spoken in my thoughts.
Let my example be one of many in bringing peace to this world. Our first notion is to help, not hurt no matter what race we interact with. Monsters live with us here, yet we strive to eliminate them even when they mean us no harm. All they want is love and understanding, just like Humans do. This Unicorn beside me has received both of those and I wish that she find much more of it in freedom. Please, let her be free and live a prosperous life. I will pay for all of my evils if that's what it takes...
"Please don't say that." I open my eyes at the sound of the Unicorn's voice.
"You read my thoughts again?" I'm used to this, but it still startles me.
"You don't need to set me free. I have all I need in here, with you." She shuffles close with her hooves lightly tapping the floor.
"There's such an open world out there. It's not right for you to fall for me. All I've ever done is hurt you, mentally and physically; I don't deserve your feelings." I cast my eyes downward, feeling the deep shame weighing on my shoulders.
The Unicorn brings me into a warm embrace, resting her head on mine as silent tears stream down my cheeks. I blink them away after a few seconds, lightly push her away and turn around in my seated position. I hear her shuffling again, this time gently placing a hand on my shoulder.
"I don't want you to suffer this burden by yourself. I want us both to be free from all of this; it's too lonely for just one of us."
"I only became a priest to help others, not to harm them. I don't know when I stopped being a priest and started to be a sadist, but I can't turn back now. As long as you are here, in this church, I will be forced to hurt you no matter how much we love each other! I can't bear to keep hurting you anymore..."
The Unicorn doesn't say anything, opting to let her actions speak as she spins me around and places a deep chaste kiss on my lips. By some divine miracle that I can't explain, her injuries and old pain starts fading away and reverting back to its original state. Her horn whitens and shines brilliantly again while her golden coat is regaining its former beauty. The gray hair she had before has brightened considerably back to the natural silvery color that compliments her fur so well. When we separate from our intimacy, she notices the confusion on my face and lets out a bright cheery laugh for the first time since her capture.
"Your love and your sincere kindness brought this about. My magic has been restored as well. It's almost as if I was never captured in the first place; almost. I've only been captured by your pure heart since then..." She leans into me and closes her eyes.
"One day, we'll find our freedom from all of this." I meet her in another kiss with a renewed sense of hope burning in my very soul.
A/N: Okay, I'll admit it. This chapter was partially influenced by my deeply 'emotional' episode I had while on vacation. Frankly, I now consider any moment away from my family as a vacation, but we agreed not to bring that up again, didn't we? I openly welcome all PMs for me about the series, partly because I want your input and partly because your ideas get me thinking. For this chapter specifically, some proactive readers asked me about what kind of plot I'd use and I promised a special kind of romance, which I did indeed deliver here. Oh well, if some of you don't want to talk to me, that's fine too. Next one-shot on the list is...Nightmare! Ooh, I feel like I have a personal connection with this one, mostly since I have never once had a normal dream before. Really, all of the dreams I've ever had are like schizophrenic visions than anything else. Whatever, I'll figure something out. By the way, the Dullahan story is almost complete, so expect it to be released with the next chapter!