“Unicorns aren’t real.”
“Unicorns aren’t real,” accused the drunkard. It was late. It was a chill night with no clouds. The tavern had closed and the final dregs of punters trickled out from the humble building in the lonely town. One had just stopped to relieve himself of his umpteenth full bladder that night when, walking past him, was a large figure; a brynja sat over the shoulder of a thick gambeson. Cloth wraps ended the limbs and like the two blades at her waist there were two shields hung over their back – one round and one kite. The kite shield with the unicorn heraldry faced the vile smelling souse.
The face was barely hidden in the night’s dark but it turned to the piss stained hands of the drunk. He stood there, swaying in the sea breeze that didn’t exist. The silence may have been palpable if he’d even been aware of it.
“I suppose you’d be telling me next that Carolus didn’t push the barbarians back,” she said in sarcasm. He became utterly bewildered by the thick accent wrapping itself around the french words.There was a flash of his eyebrows rising to his diminishing hairline before scowling, scrunching his eyes beneath aging wrinkles all the while his jaw remained slackened.
He called out to noone, stammering his first attempt into a question before it became a statement. “Woman? A woman! No wonder a bitch has a fucking unicorn on her shield!” He looked as if his blood had gone to his face despite his jovial voice. “Fucking,” he paused, stumbling back a few inches in the mud. “Woman. Fucking women.” He pointed limply at her, completely disgusted by her presence and completely unaware that she was facing him now.
She exhaled in her own contempt of him. “You’re not exactly a tiny girl, are you?” He burped. “Doesn’t matter.” She knew where this was going. He laughed to himself, spitting small chunks of meat and sack from his toothless grin. “How about you try and tame my unicorn, woman?” He laughed, beginning to pull his britches. “I bet none but your daddy has even looked at you.”
She took exception to this. She took two steps forward and punched the rim of the shield into his face with an arc that he was too slow to follow. Blood exploded from his nose and a chipped tooth parted ways from its siblings. He reeled from it, almost stumbling into the floor.
“Unicorns don’t exist,” said Frigsdottr, “but you don’t have to either.” She unsheathed the scram at her lap and dragged him into the piss soaked alley nearby.
– by Kier Sparey
© Copyright Kier Sparey 2014
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A note on the text:
This story comes from a challenge that I’d set myself where I asked for an image from someone in order to write flash fiction about the content. I went a little overboard but this is what came from it.
I should also apologise for the historical accuracy with the unicorn shield. Although heraldry did include unicorns, they didn’t reach the height of their popularity until the 15th century. With the viking age over around 1066, I cheated a little by bringing the heraldic shield forward by a few centuries. Sorry!
This is the image that I was given –