Azure's world seemed to fall apart when she was reminded how different she was from the rest of her family. Or rather, how normal she was compared to the rest of her family. As much as the winter season was meant to be spent with family, she found herself wandering away from home. She slipped on some warm clothes before heading out to their barn to get one of the horses ready. I can at least get some time by myself.
The cold didn't bother her much so she lost track of time as she went out on the snow covered trails they had on their property. She wasn't even sure if she was on their property anymore since everything looked the same. She imagined disappearing in this whiteness. Sometimes she felt like disappearing and this was the perfect time for it. Everyone was so busy with the holidays she doubted they'd even notice she was gone so long.
She stopped her horse to jump down after a little while, deciding to explore the wonderland the snow had created on her own. She tied the horse up to a tree before she started walking. She reached up to break some icicles off tree branches as a form of entertainment as she went along, lost in her thoughts.
I'll never be able to enjoy being home. Roan gets everything. I'm so boring compared to the rest of my family. She thought, snapping one of the icicles she held onto into pieces as she walked, tossing the fragments off to the sides. Roan was able to shape shift unlike her, and it had never stopped bothering her even though he had started that years ago. They were twins which made it even worse. He got all the luck. I should be able to be out here running without a horse.
I could get lost out here and never go back. Find myself another place to live or make my own. I have the skills for that, dad taught me that much.
I'd like to get lost out here.
Azure stopped when she noticed tracks on the ground. They look like a horse. She thought, looking behind her to make sure she hadn't simply ran into her own path. It can't be. They didn't look quite the same, either. They were a little sloppier than her horse would have made them. She looked up at the tree next to her and noticed the icicles were all broken off.
She looked around and saw nothing right there so she decided to follow the trail, curious what it was. Maybe someone else out on their horse. I'm probably on the public land by now, it wouldn't be that strange I guess.
She stopped when she saw it was certainly horse-like but had no rider. It was nearly purely white, though had a few small spots of brown. What really captured her attention, though, was the long, twisted horn on its head. A unicorn? It didn't seem that impossible considering the weird species in her friends and family. But it wasn't something she had heard of really existing, either.
Vere stopped walking when he lifted his head to hit the icicles and nothing happened. He looked up at the branch, confused why it was already broken. It took that for him to notice that there were boot prints in the ground. Humans... out here? When it's this cold out?
He froze in place when he noticed something... someone move. He stared at her. Yes... a human. She didn't seem harmful. She was just a girl as far as he could tell, though one small breeze his way alerted him to the fact that she wasn't just human. She's a Hunter. He debated bolting. But then he figured she'd just shoot him if she wanted him enough. Standing still seemed silly too, though. It wasn't as though she wouldn't see him.
He startled and moved back a ways when she started approaching him. She stopped, realizing she was going to scare him off if she kept going. "It's ok." She said, not sure if he would really care what she said. Were unicorns animals? Or were they like her brother and mom - shifters with a complete ability to understand what was going on?
"Wh...what do you want?" He asked, ears flattened and head ducking low. He could kill her if he charged her, but he didn't want to do that either. He had never killed anything or anyone before and he certainly didn't want to start now, even if she was a Hunter.
"You can talk." She said, not entirely surprised. So can mom and Roan when they are shifted. I guess he is more similar to them than regular shifters.
"Yes..." he said, eyeing her warily.
"I don't want to hurt you, I promise." She assured him. It annoyed her that she was part Hunter. She knew that was probably why he was so bothered by her. Or he just doesn't like humans at all. I've never heard of Unicorns actually being out there so they clearly like to remain hidden. "My name's Azure."
"Hello..." he said unsurely.
She smiled. "You don't have a name?"
"Are you planning to capture me...? Or kill me?" He knew Hunters did often just kill his kind to take their horns. Why would she tell me that anyway. Then again, why wouldn't she just do it if she wanted to.
"No. Does it look like I can carry a big Unicorn around?" She said, walking toward him again.
He backed up. "You don't need all of me."
"I don't want to take any of you. Honestly I was just out for a walk. I'm not an active Hunter."
"You don't have any weapons on you...?"
"Not a thing." She said, digging in her pockets which made him lower his head more in anticipation. When she withdrew her hands to turn her pockets out and nothing fell out aside from some money and some other random things, he relaxed some.
She could still have it hidden elsewhere... but unless she likes playing with things before killing them, I should be ok.
"Vere." He said. "That's my name."
"You're very pretty, Vere." She smiled, walking over to him. He debated backing up again but decided to play nice, figuring it wouldn't hurt and would probably only help his chances of getting away.
"Thanks..." He said, tensing when she reached up to touch the hair on his chin.
"I didn't know Unicorns were real." She said, wanting to touch his horn as well, though he had his head held up too high now for her to do so. Instead she ran her hand down his neck to rub him there. Her dad's horses like that so she figured he might as well. It did make him relax, which made her lips form a small smile.
"Well... now you know."
"Aren't you cold?" She said. His hair was somewhat thick, though at the same time she doubted it was all that helpful when it was so cold out.
"If you follow me I could get you a blanket or something... it looks like you've been walking for a long time." She said, walking beside him as she ran her hand down his side, stopping at his stomach to look at his tail and feet. "I think it'd feel better if we got rid of some of those clumps off your feet and tail, too."
"They aren't that bad." He said. No way I'm letting you capture me that easily.
"They are." She said, walking over to lean down and pick up his tail, shaking it to try to get some snow to fall out of the hair at the tip. It didn't do much good, though. "It's really stuck, too."
"It's fine." He insisted. "Why are you wandering around out here in the winter anyway?"
"Why are you?"
"I..." Have nowhere else to go. "I asked about you."
"Needed some fresh air. I was actually horseback riding, but I needed a break and wanted to walk a little myself."
"Ah." he said, looking past her for the horse. "I don't see one."
"He's a little farther off than this. Do you want to meet him?" She smiled. Maybe this will gain his trust. He seems interested in the horse at least.
"Well..." he said, thinking about it for a moment. Is it a trap? She seems innocent enough... "Ok."
"Are you from around here, Vere?" She asked him as they walked back to her horse.
"I don't think so."
She laughed. "Don't think so?"
"I don't really know where I am." He didn't want to admit that, but he couldn't really give her another answer.
"Ah. Do you travel a lot?"
"All the time."
"Must be nice."
"Sometimes." It's mostly just lonely.
They remained quiet after that for the remainder of the walk. Vere stayed behind her, keeping an eye on her and his surroundings, watching for any other Hunters to show up. When they got to her horse and nothing happened, though, he was starting to feel silly for being so suspicious of her. She's just a girl. Probably a nice one.
"Well, this is him. He's not the best horse we have, but he doesn't mind the cold."
"How many do you have?"
"Quite a few. My dad really likes them."
"Oh. You live with your family?"
"Yeah." She said as she pet her horse. "They are... different."
"Sure you don't want a warm blanket to relax under for the night?" She asked as she got on her horse.
"I..." What could it hurt? "Maybe just for a little."
"Good." She smiled. "I promise we are harmless. My family might be strange but they wouldn't hurt you. And if you prefer I won't even say you are there. My parents have been busy so I took over the barn duties, you can stay in there all you like for now and I doubt anyone would notice."
"Ok." He said. He was curious now, though that didn't stop the worrying any. As nice as she seemed, that didn't mean she was safe. But some place warm seemed really nice right then and the thought of it made the risk seem worth it. He would just have to stay on guard and keep his options in mind for escape plans. I could outrun her horse, or any Hunter I'm sure as long as they don't have a trap set up for me. But I really don't think she even knew I was out there. This was all chance.
He was impressed by the size of her home. And the looks of it. He always loved log homes and this one certainly wasn't lacking in charm. The barn looked just as nice. "Your dad must be a successful Hunter."
"He is. But he only hunts bad things. He isn't one of those ones out for trophies."
"Ah. Ok." He said, keeping an eye on the house as Azure opened the barn. He couldn't see anyone from where he was standing, which made him feel a little better. They won't see me either.
"Do you have a human form, Vere?" She asked as she opened the barn door and turned to look at him.
"Yes... but I don't use it very much."
"I'd love to see it. And I could get you some hot chocolate too. I bet you're thirsty."
"That does sound good."
"Well, unless you plan to drink it as a horse you should shift back then." She teased before leading her horse into the barn. Vere followed her as he debated shifting into his human form.
I'm slower then, more vulnerable... but I can also shift fast and get out of there, it'll only add a slight delay. And perhaps if she sees I'm human she'd be less inclined to do anything to me anyway. Plus it hides my horn which is what they always want.
He shifted to his human form, though he forgot just how long it had been since he had used it. He hadn't been in a town or done anything human for quite some time. He didn't have money, for one thing. For another he hadn't found anything to like about humans. They kept to themselves and he couldn't really do much without their currency.
Azure turned to look at him. He looked normal enough, if not a bit unkempt. His light blonde hair was long and wavy, his green eyes bright and alert. His clothes were perhaps the most obvious sign that he didn't have much or use his human form very much - they were old and a bit worn out. He probably just has those clothes all the time for whenever he does need to shift back. I should get him some more, or at least something new to wear so he can have something different for a change.
"You should be human more often." She smiled.
"I don't really have a reason to... it's much easier to get by as a unicorn."
"Eating plants all day?" She laughed. "I bet you'd like some real food, too."
"Yeah, it'd be nice." He admitted softly. "Why are you being so nice to me? You don't even know me."
"You seemed as lost as I feel." She said before she left to go to the house. Vere wandered around the barn while she was gone, studying each of the horses, trying to imagine which one was the star. That Hunter is really strange. My parents always taught me that they all wanted us dead or to at least take our horns from us. They'd think I'm an idiot right now. Then again, they haven't seen me in years anyway... maybe I shouldn't be so concerned with what they had said.
"Hot chocolate is done," Azure said, startling him. She couldn't help but smile. "You are a jumpy thing, aren't you?"
"Just not used to having anyone around." He said, taking the mug from her. He inhaled the aroma of it, letting the warm, moist air heat his face. It was so normal of a thing, but so foreign to him at the same time.
"You can come and relax," she said, sitting on the ground with her mug and grabbing one of the blankets she had brought out to wrap herself up in it. "I won't let anything get you."
"You were the thing I was afraid of, remember?" He said, sitting next to her anyway and grabbing a blanket as well. He realized just how cold he was in comparison to that cup of hot chocolate in his hands and realized this was probably a good idea anyway. If something terrible doesn't happen to me I'm going to end up freezing myself anyway.
"But you're not anymore."
"No, not anymore."
"I'll steal you some of our dinner in a little while, for now hot chocolate will have to do."
"It's nice." He said. He smiled for the first time. "Thank you."
"Thank you." She said. For giving me someone to feel needed by. "You can come here whenever you'd like, Vere. I will gladly get you some hot chocolate and food whenever you need. Or anything else you need."
"No... really, thank you." He said. "I haven't had anyone to talk to... in years."
"I haven't really felt very needed or a part of this family in years." She said. "So you're the first exciting thing to happen in a while."
"A dirty, half frozen unicorn is the most exciting thing in years, huh?" He said half jokingly.
"This is the nicest thing to happen to me in years, so I think we are even." This is the most at home I've felt in a long time.