One Year Ago/The Unicorn’s Gift

After The Black Unicorns of Cardenborn, from about a year ago.

This is a bit darker than even normal Unicorn/Factory things.

However: while it contains mention of pregnancy, there is no rape.

Masha watched the child grow up.

She had grown up in Cardenborn, and she had known, early, what sort of woman their unicorns liked. Unlike her age-mates, she’d gone down to the river when it was her time, the way girls did in other towns, not because she was a virgin, but because she was no longer anything close to that.

She’d asked the right questions – and lots of wrong questions – of the working girls that came to Cardenborn and took their money to go down to the river. She’d asked different questions of the butcher, the baker, the candlestick dipper, her friends’ brothers and sometimes her friends’ fathers.

And when she had told the grannies that she would be going down to the river in her due time, they had not naysayed her. They had warned her, of course. “The unicorns are fickle, even ours. This could end in pain. It could end in death.”

Masha had wanted the mark, the small scar the unicorns left just under the ribs, that some places called the Unicorn’s kiss. The working girls who passed through had taken to wearing their skirts low and their shirts high, to show that off. Misha wanted to wear her shirt just under her breasts and her skirt down on her hips. She wanted the kiss.

She had not truly figured on the child, although she understood that one followed after the other. Her belly, unicorn-kissed, had swollen, and she had birthed the changeling child.

Watching him grow up was difficult, but it was only the start of her troubles.

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