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Unicorn - 1181 Word Opening

yorelm

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Most bases covered, but I'd reiterate on the exclamation points. Maybe at least cut half of them. But cool read.
 

TheEndIsNigh

...Prepare Thyself
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All just opinions, obviously

“I wasn’t sure they was real!”

Jake guffawed. “They’s real, all right Paul, just like I told ‘ya!” (Obviously they're real; they've just shot and killed it)

They four humans (POV flash- they know they are so whos thinking this) were standing over the body of the dead unicorn they’d just slain.

(One quick observation, this attempt at dialect will be hard to maintain and IMO makes for hard reading. Huckleberry Finn has a lot to answer for. IMO crap writing)

“Maybe we’d best take it an’ get outta here?” another of them asked nervously.

“Don’t let yer pants twist up them balls, Bryan! I told ‘ya, the only ones living on this mountain are elves – pacifist elves! No one’s ever been killed by an elf off this mountain!” (Attribution needed and since there are four people itneeds to be closely maintained and yes, the balls reference is poor)

“S’okay for you to say, Jake,” Bryan retorted. “But maybe no one ever gave ‘em much cause to kill before. Don’t elves consider the unicorn to be some sort’a god of the forest?” (dialect already slipping)

Lord of the forest. It ain’t no god.”

“Let’s just get the damn horn ‘n get the hells outta here!” Paul spat.

Jake pulled a thin, shiny dagger out of his tunic. He knelt down at the creature’s head.

“Why we gotta use that delicate-assed thing?” the fourth man asked. “It’ll take forever t’dig that damn horn out with that!”

Jake sighed heavily, obviously aggravated. “Because the wizard said it had to be cut out with this, and only this dagger. He made it clear he’d know if we used somethin’ else, and we wouldn’t be paid!

“Now, if yer all done whining, I’ll get to work!” With that, he leaned in – only to discover one of their arrows, stuck in the unicorn’s neck, was in his way. He broke it and threw it aside – but said nothing, since the fletching identified it as his own.

Jake – Jake Crowman by name – pushed the tip of the blade into the creature’s head, as clear of the boney extension as he dared. His eyes widened as the dagger suddenly glowed, and it slipped easily into the hide. He found it cut as easily as slicing through soft butter, as he guided it around the horn. When the sliced ends met, he discovered he needed to cut deeper. This time, he cut all the way to the skull – and discovered the horn was attached! (How else is it going to be sticking out of the head)

He cut away much more meat, drained the head of blood. “Gimme a canteen!” Bryan handed him one. Jake used the water and the dagger to clear everything away, so he could get a good look.

“Damn!” Bryan exclaimed. At the base of the horn was a clump of malformed bone, directly attached to the skull of the beast. “Looks like this might take longer’n we hoped,” Bryan told the others.

Jake, praying, tried to cut into the skull near the clump of bone.

The dagger shone even brighter, and sliced into the bone as easily as it had the unicorn’s flesh! He dug in until the dagger dimmed a bit, and he felt it cutting through something softer. He then cut around in a circle around the horn – until he saw the horn dip to one side. It was free!

He sat back on his haunches a moment, then grabbed the horn with both hands, and pulled. The horn ripped clear of the brain with an ugly, fluid-filled sucking sound.

(Too much messing about - Snap it off and be done with it)

Jake held the trophy up high, and the others cheered.

“Open the wine!” Paul declared, referring to the special (and expensive) bottle they’d brought to celebrate the successful end of the hunt.

“Not yet,” Jake told them. “Let’s wait ‘til we’re off the mountain.”

“But, Jake!” Bryan protested, “We always celebrate right after!”

“Well, um…” Jake chuckled nervously. “There’s something… something I um… lied about.”

Three faces confronted him, all looking both confused and a bit angry.

“You see,” Jake continued, “The elves living on this mountain? They ain’t exactly pacifists. In fact, they’re quite warlike.

“And we just killed their most sacred forest creature.”

Frack!” Paul cursed. (the gruesomeness of the horn extraction suggests this is adult fiction - Frack - come on)

“Well, come on!” Jake commanded. “Grab up the gear. We have what we came for, now let’s hustle outta here!” The men worked fast, packing it all up and mounting their rides. On Jake’s signal, they all went straight into a gallop, heading south and on the trail leading off the mountain.

Adrianna (maybe mention she's one of them elves - I know it becomes obvious but...) was in a tree just a short way off that very same trail. She’d spotted a rose-colored bird she’d never seen before, and wanted to take a look. The bird resembled a wren, but a bit larger. It also had an almost perfectly round black spot just below its neck, and its beak was orange. Its song was as beautiful as it was!

The bird’s song suddenly stopped, and Adrianna also stopped to listen.

Galloping horses, she realized. Shoed horses! So not Plains Elfmen.

She stood up on the high branch. She soon saw four horsemen – all humans – moving quickly south on the trail. She almost laughed when she saw each face was showing a degree of fear. “You espy one of our sabre panthers then, did you, humans?” She spoke softly. She had no reason to engage these hunters. They were headed off the mountain, and she saw no signs they’d had a successful hunt. Only a few humans dared to hunt the mountain, and as long as it looked like they were hunting for food and not just trophies, the elves generally left them alone.

If a particular animal was experiencing a bad year, their numbers dwindling, an elf would be assigned to meet with the hunters to let them know to leave that particular animal be. There were very few beasts which were considered sacred, and none were eating game, so were not a problem.

When Adrianna looked back, the pretty bird had left. She sighed, but was still pleased with the experience. She would paint him when she returned to the village. She started thinking of a name for the new bird as she descended the tree.

(You've lost my attention - with the bird spotting stuff.)


Walking, it would take her a few hours to get back home; but the weather was pleasant, and a plethora of animals were moving about, so it would be a delightful walk!

But a quarter hour later, her smile disappeared. She caught the scent of blood – lots of it – and something else. Magic?

Adrianna changed course, toward the scent. She crossed the southern trail, and a few minutes later beheld the equine carcass.

She ran to it and knelt beside it. She had thought it to be one of the wild horses, rare on the mountain, but some wandered up from the plains from time to time.

When she saw the cut skull, the true horror became evident to her.

Adrianna stood. Her arms went straight down her sides, rigid with anger. Her hands were balled into fists.

Her golden-speckled eyes suddenly turned black. Her paleness was replaced with a red hue. She looked up – and screamed.

Magic roiled over her body. An involuntary release of her magic caused a ripple through the forest. Every creature within a mile fled. Birds filled the skies, fleeing in all directions. The hoofbeats of frightened animals would be heard fore more than an hour.

Adrianna looked southward. She brought to her mind the visage of each man she’d seen fleeing the mountain.

Four men she would kill.
IMO this doesn't work. I like the premise, which shows promise, but it's lacking in something.

As I mentioned I think the dialect attempt jars with the reader and there seems little depth to the characterisation.

The dialogue also seems a bit flat.

From the plot point of view surely the wizard who sent them would have made them aware they should less conspicuous, given he wants the horn. By not doing he jeopardises the mission. Also the warlike nature of the elves would be well known given they pop up to tell people not to hunt things at times. There would be little point if they weren'y prepare to enforce their orders.

However, as I said there hope in this story. I would cut the numbers down to two. That way the dialogue and whose speaking can be tighter. If you need more adventurers you can bring them in later after the opening scene or even have them holding the horses some distance away so they are there but not there.

Just suggestions of course.

Hope I helped

Tein.
 
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