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Unicorn/Factory has a landing page here
The word went up and down the water, up and down the silver road. It was whispered, not shouted, murmured, not spoken, alluded to and never written down. Nobody wanted the factories to find out, the Town to find out, but everyone else wanted to know.
The word did go into the Towns, too – the Towns hired any number of Villagers, after all, and, perhaps most especially, the Towns employed women of an age but not an inclination to know better. Sujennia’s mother called them, into her pottage, “no better than they should be.” When it came to Cardenborn, however, the opinion was quickly coming that they were far better than expected. Sujennia and her age-mates certainly thought so.
Cardenborn, a thicket-ringed village near the lake end of a wide stream, had been home to a small family of unicorns for far longer than any other Village in the area; even before the factories had come, the most-downstream places often found themselves with water needing purifying.
They had made their deals, the same as any village. Generation after generation, they had purified their water and given their virgins to the unicorns. Nobody had really noticed – except, Sujennia guessed, unicorns from other villages, who never came too close to Cardenborn – that their unicorns weren’t quite as white. At first, the grandmothers told, the unicorns had just been a little grey. Then they’d been a little greyer, and a little less fussy about the purity of the virgins sent to them.
Sujennia’s great-auntie told of a time when, during her youth, a white unicorn had ventured near Cardenborn. “That thing, let me tell you, sniffed the air once and ran away. And there were our unicorns, laughing the whole time.”
And now? Now the black unicorns of Cardenborn were a whisper, a legend, a sneaky rumor, and every working girl in the seven counties was working their way to the thicket. Because the black unicorns would not touch maids like Sujennia and her age-mates, no. The onyx horns wanted only experienced women.
And the Villagers of Cardenborn were more than willing to pay for a few hours of working girls’ time, because it meant their maids all lived, all intact, to pass their virginity on in a more human manner.
And the waters might shimmer oddly, but they were as pure as any in the seven counties.
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