The moment that the horn first appeared, Ystella hated it. She learned how to hide it from her family and the herd, but it involved time in the shop every few weeks. Grinding off a unicorn horn also made for some interesting side effects and taking care of the magical residue became a frenzied event.
With her family prodding her toward any available stallion, Ystella has to obey the rules, while completely avoiding them. Her technique has kept her from any entanglements, but her mother is catching on.
Magnus is a hunter sent to find the anomaly in the area. There is a mythical shifter where no mythical shifter should be and it is his job to identify it and bring it to the council; whether it wants to go or not.
New magic was dangerous and needed to be indexed, catalogued and identified. Magnus has never been so willing to throw himself into the path of danger. He has a hard side. He can take it.
Magnus walked through the shifter guild hall and headed for the shamans’ domain on the upper floor.
He knocked politely on the doorframe and waited until the invitation was called out.
“Come in, Magnus. Elder Killian is out, but I have been briefed on the situation.” Shaman Alberta Kenziac stepped out from behind one of the trees that were providing shadow and support to the room.
He met her at the bank of cushions and the steaming tea set on one side of the room. Magnus waited until the shaman waved at him to sit, and then, he took the cushion across from her.
Folding himself into a comfortable position took some doing, but the shaman was working herself around her swollen belly, so it took her just as long to get relaxed.
Kenzi looked at him, and she huffed. “You know, if he wasn’t sharing my aches and pains, I would probably kill my mate.”
Magnus inclined his head. “I have heard that it is one of the side effects of the balanced mating.”
She grunted, and her belly shifted under her shirt, something moved under her skin. “Balanced my ass.”
He didn’t grin. He forced an expression of concern on his features. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No, but, thank you. Well played.”
He smiled slightly. “I did mean it.”
“I know, but I am also a shaman. I can see things that most shifters wouldn’t dare to dream. Now, as for the reason you are here...” She muttered softly and lifted her hands.
Between them, a map began to form.
“We have seen signs of a new mythical in the world.”
Magnus leaned forward. “You are joking.”
“I am not. The magic grows, flares, and then disappears for weeks before the cycle begins again. It dropped off the map again yesterday, and we need you to find the shifter before the signal peaks and disappears again.”
He watched the golden mark pulse, flare, and then fade to nothing, over and over again.
“How long has it been on the radar, so to speak?”
“We have been watching it for six months. The power grows with each cycle, and whatever is going on could be critical in a matter of months. We don’t want that power exploding all over the human realm.”
“Right. Do you have the area narrowed down?”
She snorted, and the map pulled out. “It is in a few hundred miles, each and every time.”
“Do you have any idea if it is male or female?”
Kenzi waved off the map. “My guess is female.”
“Males don’t try to hide power as a general rule. There are always exceptions, but they are exceptions. Women have far more to lose from exhibiting power or anything outside the norm, and this is definitely a qualifier.”
He nodded. “How long do I have?”
“As the occurrences are getting slightly closer together, I would say you have less than two weeks. You are the only hunter on this case, and I need you to do this fast, Magnus. Find her, bring her in.”
He rose to his feet. “I will do it as quickly as I can. How will I know that I have found what I am looking for?”
“Look for an angry or frightened woman with a magical abnormality. Extra arms, claws, horns, you name it.”
Magnus cocked his head. “What if she doesn’t want to come with me?”
“Make her. She needs to be assessed. We haven’t seen power of this type in centuries.”
“So, she could be dangerous, and you want her here for an exam?”
“She or he is exceptionally powerful, and we would like to speak with him or her about joining the guild.” Kenzi wrinkled her nose. “If she is a new mythical, we need to record it so that future generations will know what to look for.”
He snorted. “Why can’t you just leave her be?”
Kenzi sobered. “Because if she is left out there on her own, she could become prey at the drop of a hat. Artifacts from a mythical shifter are expensive, exotic, and rare. If the black market were given free rein to capture them, they would have an exclusive offering to sell them off whole or piece by piece.”
Magnus shuddered. “Right. Got it. I am going in search of your mythical mythical.”
“Good. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will find her. Oh, this will help.” She moved slowly across the room and found a small stone. “Keep this with you, and it will warm up when the mythical energy is near.”
“Wait, have you sent anyone else out after her?”
Kenzi wrinkled her nose. “No. I waited until you were off your last assignment and put in a request for you.”
Magnus took the small pebble and rolled it between his fingers. “Why me?”
“Because you can do a fast job as slowly as necessary. I trust you with this, Magnus. Go and do your job.” Kenzi waved at him, and then, she slowly made her way back into the greenspace that the shamans called their office.
Magnus blinked as she disappeared between two trees. He was dismissed. He had better get to work.