LA BÉNÉDICTION DE LA LICORNE
(THE UNICORN’S BLESSING)
am Giselle, the fourth daughter of my father Vaux le seigneur de la guerre (the warlord). I am seven years old. I hear my sisters playing with the boys in the forest. I take a path toward them that leads me through the meadow.
The grass in the meadow is as high as my waist as I wade across. A multitude of grasshoppers, moths, and butterflies arise to greet me and they alight upon my rough tunic like jewels. The tall grasses wear helmets of golden spikes and the multitude of them bows to me in waves. They are my Armée de la Prairie (Army of the Meadow). I am the Warlord Queen. I nod to my loyal army.
Then I see two kittens in a nest of grass, a back one and a white one. They look up at me and their eyes are fierce and they raise their tiny paws in defiance. I speak to them, saying ~ You have safe passage in my land. My army shall have no quarrel with you. ~
I enter the forest once again and anon I see my sisters, Héloïse, Clarice, and Marian. They are laughing and holding hands and I know they are speaking of boys. Marian, my third sister, sees me and calls out with disdain, saying, ~ Go away, Giselle! This is not for children. ~
But Héloïse, my eldest sister, shushes Marian and calls to me kindly, asking, ~ What brings you here, Gisells? ~
I ask ~ Where are the boys? ~
Clarice replies to me, saying, ~ We await them here at our castle while they battle Le Subalterne du Démon (The Minion of the Devil) ~
Then I hear the boys in the distance yelling excitedly. I cry out, saying, ~ I want to battle The Minion of the Devil, too! ~
As I run past my sisters I hear Héloïse saying, ~ Oh, Giselle. ~
I hear Clarice saying, ~ Oh, no, no! ~
I hear Marian saying ~ I told you: she ruins everything! ~
I am thinking to myself disdainfully saying of my sisters, ~ Why do you swirl your tongues for boys while they have all the fun? ~
I seek the noise of the boys through the forest ahead. I find them at a rocky clearing. They surround with long sharpened sticks a furious black creature.
It is a black cat!
The cat dashes to escape and I witness Etienne, son of Gaume the captain of my father’s men, as he jabs at the oncoming path of the frantic animal. The cat quickly retreats to the center of the cruel arena of hollering boys.
Etienne shouts, saying, ~ Run from Warlord Etienne, oh, Minion of the Devil! ~
The black cat spins and hops and hisses surrounded by unrelenting menace. One of the smaller boys leaps behind the cat and thrusts his sharpened stick into the cat’s side. The cat screams and tumbles on the ground like a top.
The blow has also struck at the meager consciences of the boys’ and now they lower their spears and Etienne frowns at the eager small boy, asking, ~ Why did you do that? ~
The small boy is yet triumphant and immune to the palpable censure, saying, ~ I have slain the Minion of the Devil! ~
The cat has stopped spinning and sits on his haunches panting wide-eyed lowering sinking.
Another boy speaks up to the boy beside him, saying, ~ Now what do we do? ~
I suddenly think of the two kittens that I had encountered and to whom I promised free passage in my land.
The small boy shouts again at the unexpected indifference of his warring comrades, saying, ~ I have slain the Minion of the Devil! ~
I startle them all by leaping into the center of the rocky clearing, beside the cat and screaming at them all, saying, ~ You are the Turds of the Devil! ~
Etienne cries startled, saying, ~ Giselle! ~
Before any of them react I clutch a handful of sharp rocks and fling them at the head of the small boy whose stupid face receives them earnestly.
The small boy shrieks and covers his face and runs away from the clearing. I grab another handful of sharp rocks but those find the backs of heads as the cruel boys turn and flee into the forest. All flee except Etienne, who stands his ground facing me.
Etienne is speaking, saying, ~ I did not give the order to kill the Minion… ~
I have glanced down at the wounded cat who now lies on her side, I see her swollen teats, and she treads air in her dream of death. I have raised the biggest sharp stone nearby. I have looked back into Etienne’s feeble speech and I am raising my arm.
Etienne turns and flees into the forest.
The cat now stares at eternity. I can do nothing. I think again of the two kittens, surely hers. I pile rocks over her black body and I try to make an honorable crypt.
I return toward the meadow, to myself saying, ~ Boys! Sisters! ~
My Army of the Meadow greets me and a halo of lacewings honors me as I seek the two motherless kittens. I find them sleeping and before they can panic I have clutched them and placed them into the pockets of my tunic. They are strangely calm.
I enter the forest toward our encampment. After some dawdling journey I hear a twig snap not so far behind me. I am sure it is a vengeful boy.
Then I hear the wolf cry.
There are twigs snapping closer and closer at a gallop toward me. I start to run and I cry out for my nurse and tutor, saying, ~ Magge! Help me! ~
Then I know I cannot outrun this wolf. I stop and turn and I scream, saying, ~ Go away! Leave me! ~
I see him now as he bounds the final yards of my life, his eyes golden in his black face as indifferent as eternity.
Then to my gasping astonishment the black wolf halts his charge, skidding in dust to his belly and he hides his muzzle in the dirt.
I hear a snort behind me and trembling I jump around.
I am stupefied.
My eyes are telling me to see an enormous stag with the head of a horse and with a large horn on the top of his forehead; to see the body covered in scales, red, black, yellow, blue, and white and a belly of yellow!
I can hear the soft sound of bells coming from its mouth and I am knowing what the creature is telling me, saying, ~ I am Ch’i-lin ~
I ask the creature, whispering, ~ Are you going to eat me? ~
I hear the bells again from his mouth and I know Ch’i-lin speaks, saying, ~ I am the protector of innocent girls. ~
I listen to the bells as he speaks further, saying, ~ I have not been to this side of the world in a long time. There has been darkness since the slaying of the Lamb. Your spirit calls to me. I can hear it ringing from the other side of the world. ~
In stupid astonishment I can only ask, saying, ~ What did my spirit say to you? ~
I feel the smile in the creature’s melodious reply, and Ch’i-lin is saying, ~ You have a great destiny. I will be protector of your destiny. ~
I ask, saying, ~ Will no harm come to me? ~
The creature lowers his head, saying only, ~ I protected the Lamb. ~
As the creature turns to go I see the black cat, or perhaps the spirit of the black cat, upon the creatures back, unharmed, and I feel her voice to me saying, ~ Care for my two children. Care for them until death. ~
Ch’i-lin looks back at me and chimes, saying, ~ The white one is named Yang and the black one is named Yin. Bless you, Giselle, in kindness which is true Wisdom. ~
When I reach our encampment I continue on a path to find my nurse and tutor Magge. Along that path I encounter Mafeo, my father’s advisor, who always meddles in my volition like my father.
Mafeo speaks, saying, ~ Well, young princess, what have you got in your pockets? ~
In truth the two kittens had been so calm that I had forgotten them and I withdraw them from my pockets and hold them up and I reply, saying, ~ I have found two kittens. Their mother was killed by the boys. ~
Mafeo smiles and continues to engage me, asking, ~ How nice of you. Have you given them names yet? ~
I reply, saying, ~ The white one is Yang and the black one is Yin. ~
I see Mafeo’s eyes widen and he seems confused, asking me, ~ Where did you hear those names? ~
I am impatient to find Magge and I reply, saying, ~ Ch’i-lin told me. ~
Mafeo’s eyes widen and it is as if they push back his head and his mouth is left hinging open wordlessly. In that silence I escape his presence and I place the kittens back one in each pocket and I persist in my search for Magge.
When I find Magge in her tent I run to her and she hugs me. I withdraw the two kittens and show them to her.
Magge is pleased with them and speaks to me, asking, ~ But won’t they miss their mother? Won’t she miss them? ~
I raise my hand in defiance and I reply fiercely, saying, ~ Those stupid coward boys killed the mother for fun. They called her The Minion of the Devil. I stoned some sense into those fucker boys! ~
Magge squeels and hugs me and speaks, saying, ~ Oh, Giselle, I’ll wager you did. What will you name these kittens? ~
I reply, saying, ~ The white one is Yang and the black one is Yin. ~
Magge retains the same puzzlement that Mafeo had upon hearing those names. Magge speaks, asking, ~ Did I teach you those names? ~
Mafeo enters the opening of the tent and stands there, saying, ~ Giselle, tell Magge who gave you those names. ~
Magge looks questioningly at Mafeo as I reply, saying, ~ Ch’i-lin told me. He told me lots of things.~
And Mafeo and Magge look to each other very afraid.
This has been a prequel to
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