The Last Unicorn
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The 30th anniversary of a fantasy classic from Peter S. Beagle!
armor, but he’ll rule forever, for all Captain Cully dares.” Schmendrick raised an eyebrow, and Cully flushed radish-red. “You must understand,” he mumbled. “King Haggard has this Bull—” “Ah, the Red Bull, the Red Bull!” Molly hooted. “I tell you what, Cully, after all these years in the wood with you I’ve come to think the Bull’s nought but the pet name you give your cowardice. If I hear that fable once more, I’ll go and down old Haggard myself, and know you for a—” “Enough!” Cully roared. “Not
this forest, there won’t be a hunter takes so much as a titmouse home at his saddle. Ride on, ride on, you’ll see. I know their ways, unicorns.” “From books,” answered the other. “Only from books and tales and songs. Not in the reign of three kings has there been even a whisper of a unicorn seen in this country or any other. You know no more about unicorns than I do, for I’ve read the same books and heard the same stories, and I’ve never seen one either.” The first hunter was silent for a time,
and a unicorn 92 | Peter S. Beagle is only loping when she leaves the hunter kicking his burst and sinking horse. She moved with the speed of life, winking from one body to another or running down a sword; swifter than anything burdened with legs or wings. Yet without looking back, she knew that the Red Bull was gaining on her, coming like the moon, the sullen, swollen hunter’s moon. She could feel the shock of the livid horns in her side, as though he had already struck. Ripe, sharp cornstalks
Deep, restless, the sleeping Bull stirred again. The meal being over, the men-at-arms saluted Molly Grue and left the scullery, two for their beds, two to take up their night’s vigil in the rain. The oldest of the men waited until the others were gone before he said quietly to Molly, “Be careful of the Lady Amalthea. When she first came here, her beauty was such that even this accursed castle became beautiful too—like the moon, which is only a shining stone. But she has been here too long. Now
suddenly stepped to the parapet with the thoughtless grace of a young man. “The tide is turning,” he said. “Come and see it. Come here.” He spoke very softly, but his voice suddenly held the crying of the ugly birds on the shore. “Come here,” he said fiercely. “Come here, I won’t touch you.” Prince Lír sang: I will love you as long as I can, However long that may be… The horrible head on his saddle was harmonizing in a kind of bass falsetto. The Lady Amalthea went to stand with the king. The