Strange, a story of the Unicorn/Factory for the Giraffe Call

This is to rhodielady_47‘s prompt.

Unicorn/Factory has a landing page here

“What do we do with this?”

The villagers of Lastowe surrounded the newly-minted unicorn foal. The foal that was supposed to be a unicorn.

“I heard over in Cardenborn…”

“Cardenborn is different. That sort of thing doesn’t happen here.”

“What about that thing in Shepachdar?”

“You know about those sheep-herding towns. Lawstowe is a holy hill.”

Aaron might have sounded more firm about it if he hadn’t been connected to the unicorn-not-a-unicorn, if his daughter wasn’t leaning over the thing, protecting it and sobbing.

It was easy to say there was an abomination in another village. It had been easy, Aaron remembered hearing, for his ancestor to say not us. We won’t give our virgins to the unicorn, no matter what the other towns do. It was always easy to condemn other people’s problems.

Aaron looked around at the women, who were, to a one, watching Aaron’s daughter Susanna. At the men, watching the women. At the children, hiding and pretending they weren’t watching what was going on. He looked at the thing on the ground, and coughed.

There was a lot of coughing. Lawstowe was a very tall hill, the reason for some of its holiness. And the factory smokestacks, whose clouds of black smoke rolled over the valley towns and brushed lightly by the lowlands, tainted the air in Lawstowe more and more in recent years. Even Susanna was coughing…

…and then the thing that wasn’t quite a unicorn nosed her, and the coughing stopped. The circle of villagers fell silent. Susanna sat up, and breathed. Once, twice, her lungs sounding clear and healthy.

“Lawstowe is a holy hill.” Aaron stood up taller. This thing had come of his family’s blood. He would make it be all right. “A holy hill touched by the blemish of the Factories for too long. And this wingéd creature, this is the blessing given to us, to protect us from the pollution of the air.”

The creature on the ground spread one feathered wing carefully, and then the other, as it tottered to its feet. As one, the villagers breathed out. “Awwww.”

“Of course.” The murmurs started again, but now they were proud. “We’re a holy place.”

“This sort of thing blesses us. We are honored.”

“Let’s see Shepachdar try to beat this.”

“Let’s see the Factories do something now..”

“We’ve got ourselves something special.”

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