"You're not alone, Unicorn."
"I feel alone."
Quaraun turned away from the Phooka and stared out over the Katopas again. His heart was breaking more with each passing day. He wished more then anything that he could undo the damage he had done to their relationship. Once upon a time Quaraun and Unicorn had been lovers. Deep. Close. The bond between them was great, but now it was broken. They were lovers still, on some level, but the former closeness between them was gone. A bitter gap of mistrust hung between them now. Quaraun had tried to murder Unicorn, an act he now deeply regretted and would have done anything to erase. Unicorn had fled and it had not been easy for Quaraun to track him down.
Unicorn was only travelling with Quaraun now, because he had been close to death when Quaraun had found him. After Fire Mountain, Unicorn had sunk into a deep depression and stopped eating. He'd been several weeks without food when Quaraun found him. Quaraun had nursed him back to health, but he never fully recovered and remained desperately weakened and still fearful of the Thullid infested Elf.
The long months separated from Unicorn had mounted the feelings of remorse and now that they were travelling together again, the traumatized fear Unicorn continued to display in the Necromancer's presence tore at Quaraun's heart.
From the branches of the lone tree Quaraun and Unicorn watched the massive flood waves of stampeding Katopas as they continued their migration.
"Free as wildebeests. I wish I could run with them," Unicorn said.
"They'd trample you."
"I could turn into a Katopa and run free in the wind, and ya would never find me, for I would be lost in the herd, just another Katopa blending in with the many."
"It's survival of the fittest out here, the young bucks run foolishly at the head of the herd. The wise bulls stay to the sides keeping the cows and calves protected in the middle. The old ones fail behind and are eaten by the lions and cheetahs. You wouldn't last a day in the savannah. You are old and going blind, arthritis keeps you from moving quickly. The lions would eat you before the end of your first day with the herd."
"That bes a rather negative outlook does ya not tinks?"
"Do you deny it to be the truth?"
The two fell silent again.
"Is I yair prisoner?"
The question took Quaraun by surprise.
"I don't know how to answer that."
"I tinks it would be a fucking easy question to answer. It is quite simply aye or no. Is I yar prisoner? Yes? Or no?"
Quaraun looked down at the Katopas running by. Free as wildebeests, isn't that how Unicorn had put it? Unicorn wanted to be free? But free from what?
"Do you feel like my prisoner?"
A long silence passed between the two.
"You're not my prisoner, Unicorn. I'm sorry you feel that way."
They both remained silent until the last of the Katopas ran by.
"The sun is setting," Quaraun said. "We should stay here tonight..."
"Would ya stop me if I left?"
"Unicorn..." Quaraun couldn't think of anything to say. Many thoughts went through his mind, and the fear of losing Unicorn again knotted up in his stomach. "You can't survive on your own any more. You're too weak. And I don't want you to leave."
"Then the answer is, aye. Ya would stop me. Ya would no let me leave."
"That's not what I said..."
"Un therefore I is yar prisoner. Ya has robbed me of me freedom. I was wid ya willingly before. I is na now."
"I'm not keeping you my prisoner. Please don't think that."
"I could see before. At least enough so I could leave when I wanted to. I did leave. I ran away and went back to me Forest of No Return. But ya came back for me and I was too sick to put up a fight and not go wid ya. Ya did'na give me a choice. I is wounded animal in a cage. Trapped. Imprisoned. My sight is almost gone. I is trapped. I can'na escape."
Quaraun had forgotten about that. Unicorn had been a regenerating Lich before. The more the Lich regenerated, the stronger his physical body became, the better his eyesight was. But now that the Lich had been killed a third time, Unicorn was once again reverted to his original form, the natural state he had been in at the time he'd cast the Lich spell on himself. Quaraun had cast a spell on the old Phooka to block him from remembering he was a Lich.
"Unicorn, I love you. Please don't think of yourself as trapped and in prison."
"Ya want to know what I tinks Quaraun? I tinks yis someone who has lost control of hims destiny. Ya does no feel like yis in control o yar own life un so ya feel the need to control me life."
"I am not trying to control your life, Unicorn."
"What would you have me do? You'll die if I don't take care of you."
"Give up this quest yis on. Tis foolish. It will destroy ya. Yis no Necromancer, Quaraun, ya tinks yis, but yis not. Ya has no got it in ya. This is not who yis. It be not what ya were meant to be. Ya has lost yar way. I knows a thing or two aboot necromancers. Things to look for. Signs. Warning signals. Necromancers have a certain look in their eyes, a far away distant look. Like one who's totally destroyed their soul and given way to absolute corruption. Ya do no has that look in yar eyes Quaraun. There is a distant far away look in yar eyes, but it'sn't that. Yar distant look is that of great sadness. The pain of frustration, loneliness. We were both lonely. The Lich Lords, they took a lot from both of us. I know the pain ya feel Quaraun, more then ya know. Yis not the only hurting at the hands of the Lich Lords."
"But I'm the only one trying to stop them."
"Ya took me to Fire Mountain. Ya were going to murder me."
Unicorn fell silent and remained silent for many hours. Quaraun set up camp and tried unsuccessfully to get Unicorn to eat something. The depression that hung over Unicorn grew worse each day.
Quaraun kept the Phooka around more so he could have someone other then himself to talk to, then for any other reason.
With Unicorn slumped deeper into his fit of depression, Quaraun dared not travel onward. They remained in the valley of the Katopas under the umbrella tree for many days. The Faerie sat despondent, his wild spirit broken. He no longer danced around trees or sang to the moon. There were no more pranks or tricks. No more illusions. No more glimmer or glamour. No more shape-shifting. Not even a single unicorn prancing in the fields. There was nothing. The old Phooka sat, his ancient humanoid form, thin, frail, and fast growing more blind with each day.
Quaraun did not know, for Unicorn had not told him, but the old Phooka's sight was gone completely now. Unicorn sat under the umbrella tree, frightened out of his mind. Since childhood, he had been scared of the dark. His fear of darkness grew to mortal dread as his blindness grew worse. But then one day, shortly after the herd of Katopas ran through, the lights went dim forever and Unicorn could see no more. The Phooka sat terrified, not moving, not speaking, not eating. Afraid of the dark, with a man he could no longer trust, in a land he did not know.
Everyday Quaraun tried to comfort the deeply depressed Faerie, but every day, Unicorn sat silent, staring into the darkness that enveloped him. Until one day, Unicorn spoke once again.
"I yar prisoner," he said when he heard Quaraun moving about nearby.
"You are not my prisoner, Unicorn. Please don't think that. Please. Don't ever think that."
"Then let me go."
"Where would you go?"
"Back to me Forest of No Return."
"Ya do know I is close to the end of me life, does ya not, eh?" Unicorn stared blindly in the direction of Quaraun's voice through his cloudy silvered unseeing eyes.
"Do not talk like that. I will take care of you and you'll get better."
"I is dying."
"Why would you think that?"
"Because I be twice a thousand years old and I grow weak. Un I can'na see ya at all any more., not even in yar brightest pink. I can see nothing now. I could'na escape from ya even if I tried now." The old Phooka burst into tears. "I is completely at yar mercy now."
Quaraun looked over at Unicorn. He knew the old Faerie's eyesight had been growing worse these past few weeks, but he had not realized Unicorn had lost his sight entirely.
"You can't die from going blind," Quaraun stated, not sure what to say or do. He's never seen Unicorn cry before.
"I can'na see to eat, I will starve to death."
"I won't let you starve to death, Unicorn. I'll take care of you. You should know that by now."
"I can'na see to travel. I can'na keep up wid ya at the pace ya walk any more. Ya will leave me behind, and I will get lost. I will die alone in a strange land, surrounded by strangers who hate Phookas. My world has gone dark."
"Unicorn, you're scared of the dark, I know that. I won't leave you. You are scared of the darkness you find yourself in. It is clouding your judgement and filling your mind with senseless phobias. I will not leave you behind, I can slow my pace. Unicorn, if I am walking too fast for you to keep up with me, just tell me. I will slow down."
"Ya get so driven and caught up in yar thoughts, ya do no notice what is going on around ya. I used to be able to follow ya by the bright colours ya wear. I could see a glow of pink, un I could follow it. It be gone now. I do no find meself in darkness, but foggy grey, cloud. Like I is walking through mists, that never end. Before I could see things come un go into the mist. Yar bright pink. Now there is nothing but the mist. Just grey fog un nothing else. I is completely blind now. Ya walk on ahead, in silence, I is guided now by the sound of yar footsteps, but yis an Elf, agile un fast un quiet. Ya do no make a sound. Ya get ahead of me un I can'na tell where yis. I will get lost, fall off the path, walk into a pit, fall off the edge of a cliff. I can'na see where it is that I step."
Tears were streaming down Unicorn's face.
"I feel so helpless. I is burden to ya.'
"No." Quaraun moved closer to Unicorn to embrace him, kissing his face as he spoke. "I love you, you are not a burden. I do not mind taking care of you. I like taking care of you. I did not realize you were having so much trouble travelling. We can change the pace. Unicorn, you have become more important to me, then my destination is. If travelling is too hard for you, we can stop."
"What would ya do if I died?"
"I wish you would not talk of death so much. I don't like death and I don't want to think about yours."
"But I will die. I is older then I should be as it is. I used dark magic to prolong me life. I is older then any other Faerie who ever lived. Un yis a Necromancer. It bothers me, what ya would do if I died."
"You are not going to die, Unicorn, please, stop talking about it."
They were silent for several minutes.
"Do you want to go back to the Forest of No Return?"
"It is me home. Twould rather die there then somewhere else."
"We'll be ready to leave here in a week or so. We can go back there. I got the impression the Alchemist will always give you a place to stay."
"Me boy. I'll's see me boy agains."
"Yes, you'll see your boy again. We'll stop travelling. It's too hard on you now."